Inside the Numbers: UVA jacks threes like there’s no tomorrow
More on the solid defense down in the notes. But I need to start with the bricklaying festival that the Cavs put on.
Virginia made three of its four first from long-range against the rather passive Georgia Tech zone in the opening 6:46 as it opened up a 22-10 lead.
All that did, ultimately, was convince the guys that they were in a rhythm that turned out to be anything but.
They’d miss their final 10 threes in the first half and go 5-for-22 for the game.
That’s 22 threes out of 48 shots from the floor overall, mind you.
Strangely, when UVA did work the ball into the midrange and further, into the paint, the results were elite-level. Try 17-of-26 shooting (65.4 percent) on twos, and also getting to the line 17 times, getting past a bugaboo from the last few games, when trips to the line seemed few and far between (of course you remember the back-to-back games against FSU and Pitt when the Cavs shot a total of 10 free throws?).
Turnovers were also an issue. The final tally – 11 – doesn’t look all that bad, but the first four led to breakouts for Georgia Tech, who finished with eight fast-break points, and a pair of free throws on another trip that didn’t get factored into that total.
I used the word passive to describe the Tech zone, which is to say, it ain’t the Syracuse zone. It’s almost as if first-year Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner looked at his roster and decided that he can’t play man with what he has, and so why not go zone?
Jacking up 22 threes against that zone is unconscionable.
That can, and needs to be, fixed.
UVA defense shines
OK, so now to the defense, which was your father’s UVA Pack-Line defense, for the second night in a row.
After getting lit up by Dwayne Bacon in the loss to Florida State, the entirety of the Pitt roster in the OT loss in the Oakland Zoo and then for most of what turned into a road win at Clemson, the D is starting to round back into shape.
After allowing .831 points per possession in the 71-54 win at Boston College on Wednesday, Virginia held Georgia Tech to just .817 points per possession on Saturday.
Even when the Jackets seemed to be rolling in the first half, starting 11-for-20 from the floor as they cut an early 12-point deficit to 29-28 with 4:26 left, they were working their asses off to get shots, and the inevitable Cavalanche came after the final media timeout of the opening 20 minutes.
Georgia Tech scored three points over a 10:32 stretch as Virginia took control, and the Ramblin’ Wreck scored just 21 points on 29 second-half possessions.
Did you notice that Jack Salt didn’t leave the floor in the second half? Salt (five points, six rebounds) logged all 20 minutes after halftime, and played a career-high 35.
Isaiah Wilkins (five points, six rebounds) got 28 minutes, meaning reduced roles for Mamadi Diakite and Jared Reuter, who got four minutes each.
Which means coach Tony Bennett only went four-guard for nine minutes Saturday.
Take this as a good sign, by the way. Bennett has won ACC games going four-guard as much as 23 minutes, and by going pretty much conventional the entire way.
Versatile teams play more games in March than those who have to win one certain way.
Compiled by Chris Graham