Virginia basketball eviscerates Wake Forest, 74-51
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The Cavs jumped out to a double-digit lead in the early minutes, withstood one brief Wake Forest first-half flurry, and dominated the Deacons thereafter in a 74-51 win in the ACC home opener Wednesday night.
UVa. (11-4, 2-0 ACC), which rebounded from the debacle at UT to win its ACC opener at Florida State over the weekend, was never really challenged in this one. Wake Forest (11-5, 1-1 ACC) came in flying high, having just beaten then-#19 North Carolina 74-67 on Sunday night, but the Demon Deacons fell behind 11-0 to start the game and could never get closer than seven points the rest of the way.
A brief 9-0 Wake run cut the Virginia lead to 29-20 at the 4:03 mark on a pair of free throws by Devin Thomas, but a pair of three-pointers by Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris ignited a 12-4 UVa. run that closed out the first half on another three at the buzzer by Harris to send the teams to the locker room with Virginia up 41-24.
The ‘Hoos opened the second half on a 10-2 run to push the lead to 25 at 51-26 at the 15:35 media timeout, and the outcome was not in doubt from there on out. with Virginia leading by as many as 32 points before garbage time.
UVa. shot 50 percent from the field (26-for-52) and three-point range (7-for-14) and outrebounded Wake 38-25.
Wake Forest shot 35.4 percent from the floor (17-of-46) and 23.5 percent from three (4-of-17).
Coron Williams was the only Demon Deacon in double figures with 11 points.
Virginia returns to action on Saturday at N.C. State, and then ventures back down Tobacco Road two nights later on Monday at Duke.
• The victory was Virginia’s 100th all-time victory at John Paul Jones Arena (100-35 record in the building)
• Virginia opens the ACC season 2-0 for the first time since 2009-10 (when UVa started 3-0 in the league) • Virginia opened the game on an 11-0 run
• The Cavaliers’ 41 first-half points are a season-high and the most since leading Georgia Tech 41-29 at the half on Feb. 24, 2013 (span of 23 games)
• Virginia won the opening tip for just the third time this season (JMU, SMU)
• Virginia has never trailed in seven of its 11 wins
Player Career Highs
• London Perrantes had a career-high three steals
• Malcolm Brogdon (14 pts) scored in double figures for the eighth time this season (13th time in his career) • Joe Harris (11 pts) scored in double figures for the ninth time this season (78th time in his career)
• Justin Anderson (11 pts) scored in double figures for the sixth consecutive game (longest streak of his career), the ninth time this season (21st time in his career) • Anthony Gill (10 pts) scored in double figures for the sixth time this season
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett
On the team’s performance tonight: “I thought we came out the right way. It is pretty simple – I told the guys, you’ve got the formula for how you have to play. Does it guarantee you’re going to be successful every time? No. But we guarded the right way. They had some careless turnovers right at the beginning, which helped us. We were in the right spots and made them shoot the contested shots. We ran our offense pretty hard and got some easy looks and made some threes. There was purpose with our offense and a little bit of discipline. That was good to see. Wake Forest was coming off a big win. They’ve got a lot of sophomores like us and sometimes you don’t know how they will respond on the road, so I think they’re a better ball club than they showed. But, I was pleased with the way our guys shared the ball and took care of it.”
On Joe Harris’ performance tonight and his concussion: “He practiced yesterday. That was his only practice. He was good yesterday in practice and responded well and looked like he didn’t miss a beat out there. He had a nice pace about him and didn’t seem to get too tired. He played 27 minutes and it was good to see him back out there. We played well at Florida State without him, but he’s so important. I think had he played in that game we would’ve been that much better.”
On the passing game: “If you watch the Tennessee game you saw we were very impatient and not making the extra pass. We went to Florida State and we realized how we needed to try to play in terms of that—screening well, moving the ball, and getting back to what gives us a chance. I think they tasted some success in practice and down at Florida State when it was required and they carried that on. There is still room to make plays. You have to get out in transition and do opportunistic things, but the foundation of it is good screening, good cutting, sharing the ball, using the dribble when it’s there and trying to play to our strengths.”
On the early lead: “We forced them into turnovers. They had some careless ones. But we got the right kind of shots in the lane. Guys were aggressive and at times we broke them down. There was some shot variety in there as well. To get off to such a good start is important. Sometimes those starts are a little overrated. I can’t tell you how many times you see where teams make those runs, but the other team usually claws their way back and it can be not as big of a deal. I think they cut it to nine at one point, but for the most part we separated and did a good job keeping it that way. The start was significant.”
On Malcolm Brogdon: “He was good. I thought he played well at Florida State for sure and well tonight. Hopefully, that is just from some of the things we’re doing to put these guys in the right spots. You never know, maybe this is the point where the guys who redshirted and sat out a year find their rhythm and their timing a little more. I’m very thankful that he’s out there and he’s practicing hard and we’ll keep going in that direction. So many of our guys are important. There’s not one guy that isn’t important. But he is taking care of the ball and is leading in practice well and it’s made a difference.”
On the team’s performance at Florida State and how that carried over: “More than Joe being out at Florida State, I think what happened at Tennessee and how we practiced from there was the bigger story in my mind of why we played better basketball at Florida State. I think Joe just would have been a positive. It is not like we changed what we were doing, but just how we were going about it. We couldn’t hide from that loss. All those other losses, you could’ve just said, ‘Well, it was close.’ But when that thing stares you in the face, against a good team – don’t get me wrong, it makes you ask who are we going to become. Are we going to be serious about this? Are we going to do what has got us here to a point where we’re competitive or are we going to keep doing it how it looks? I think that was a turning point for us. We tried to put guys in a little more structure offensively and refocus defensively and get them to be unselfish.”
Wake Forest Head Coach Jeff Bzdelik
Opening statement: “Give Virginia a lot of credit. They started the game in a way that just took our heart right out of us. After five minutes it’s 11-2 and nine out of those 11 points are off turnovers. Five out of our first seven possessions we turned the ball over and then the other two possessions we missed layups. You’re not going to win that way, home or on the road, it is that simple.”
On Devin Thomas’ injury: “At first the medical staff told me I could put him in and then they told me I had to take him out. He will be evaluated. Other than that, I don’t know.”
On Wake’s performance on the road: “I really don’t know the answer to that. Obviously toughness. Mental and physical toughness, competitive spirit, discipline. All those intangibles are truly tested.”
Virginia Guard Malcolm Brogdon
On his rebounds: “The bigs do all the work. They box out and the ball gets knocked up in the air, and a guard just comes back to grab it. That’s how I get most of my rebounds.”
Comparing tonight’s game to last year’s game at Wake Forest: “It was very different. I think it was a different game. We went there last year and lost to them. We had a chip on our shoulders tonight and were not content with a win against Florida State. We’re trying to remain hungry and went out tonight and competed.”
On UVa’s fast start: “We knew that they’re a very capable team coming off that [North] Carolina win. We knew we had to start playing our way at the very beginning to establish ourselves. We did and one thing led to another, and we got the win.”
Virginia Forward Anthony Gill
On Virginia’s energy: “I don’t know if it was the best game we’ve played this season, but we played well. We’ll have to go back and watch the film with the coaches and everyone, but I felt like we played really well tonight.”
On Virginia’s upcoming ACC schedule: “Our goal is just to get two more wins, go on the road and come out with two wins. They will be tough games – both of them at NC State and Duke. They’ll both have tough atmospheres, but there won’t be too much that we can’t handle – so it will be good for us.”