Game Preview: #1 Virginia faces Louisville in ACC road finale

uva basketballLouisville went 9-for-10 from the field over an eight-minute stretch of the second half at Virginia back on Jan. 31, but back-to-back threes by Ty Jerome gave the ‘Hoos some space in a 74-64 win that was as atypical as any UVA game in the past five years.

The Cardinals (19-10, 9-7 ACC) shot 50 percent, scored 1.27 points per possession in the second half, and still lost ground – Virginia had led by six at halftime.

That’s because UVA (26-2, 15-1 ACC) shot 53.7 percent for the game, 57.7 percent in the second half, and connected on 6-of-9 shots from three-point range in the final 20 minutes, including the two bombs by Jerome.

This against what was at the time the 14th-best defense in the KenPom.com efficiency ratings, and is today still 18th.

The game was a virtual track meet, at least in terms of scoring, both teams getting their points on a meager 61 possessions.

A couple of keys for Virginia in the win

  • Points off turnovers: UVA forced 13 Louisville turnovers, and translated them into a 22-6 advantage in points off turnovers. This is a symptom for Louisville to the nature of its offensive attack, which involves a lot of one-on-one play. The dribble drive is the best approach for attacking Virginia’s Pack Line, which is why Louisville shot the ball so well, when it didn’t turn the ball over.
  • Quentin Snider held in check: Snider is Louisville’s second-leading scorer, at 12.2 points per game, on 41.3 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 percent shooting from three. He had just five points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first game.

Keys for Thursday

  • Tempo: Virginia was able to control tempo in the Jan. 31 win, with the game playing to 61 possessions per team, about 10 less than Louisville normally plays to. Less possessions means more importance on each possession, which heightens the impact of turnovers.
  • Attack the lane: Louisville is a big team, at times going 6’10”, 6’11” and 7’0” on the front line, yet Virginia was able to shoot 52.6 percent on two-point shots, and was 11-of-23 in the paint, comparable to the output from Louisville in the paint (12-of-22). The success in the lane led to the success from three-point range (9-of-16) for the ‘Hoos.
  • Intangibles: It’s Senior Night at Louisville, which could sure use a marquee win to beef up its NCAA Tournament resume, while Virginia might be as focused on managing minutes and making sure the plane leaves the airport with a healthy team as anything else. Not saying UVA doesn’t give its best effort, but you can expect Louisville to come out motivated.

Story by Chris Graham

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