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#2 UVA rallies, beats Virginia Tech: Championship teams win those games

Clash_smallA 16-0 Virginia Tech run gave the Hokies a 43-33 lead with 10:34 left. To say that second-ranked UVA was on the ropes is an understatement.

Nothing was going right for Virginia. Shots were clanging off the rim. Shot-clock violations. Dumb turnovers. Tony Bennett, who never calls timeouts, called two of them to try to stop the bleeding, to no avail.

After a second-half-opening three-pointer by Malcolm Brogdon gave Virginia a six-point lead, the ‘Hoos went 11 consecutive possessions without a point, and then after a London Perrantes three at the 10:21 mark of the half finally got the lid off the visiting team basket, Virginia went 0-for-5 from the field over the next five minutes.

That’s two made baskets, and two Justin Anderson free throws, over a 14:21 stretch.

And somehow Virginia won this ballgame.

The somehow is because of what Virginia basketball hangs its hat on: defense.

After a Christian Bayer layup with 6:48 to go made it 45-38 to go, Tech went 1-for-9 from the field with two turnovers in its last 11 possessions. Extend back to the 10:34 mark when the Hokies had built that 10-point lead, and the stat line is 1-for-11 from the field and four turnovers on the last 15 Tech possessions.

Virginia, on its end, having a woeful night on offense, scored on five of six possessions, fueled by Anderson, who hit a pair of three-pointers and scored on an alley-oop dunk coming out of a media timeout on a play that coach Tony Bennett only added to the playbook yesterday.

It wasn’t pretty, to say the least. Virginia led 24-13 with 6:57 to go in the first half, then a 10-0 Tech run got the Hokies, and as importantly, the home crowd into the ballgame, and Cassell Coliseum became a shark tank, with the Wahoos the raw meat.

The extended Tech run was 30-9 over 16:36 of game action. The home fans sensed upset. The ushers were in place to police fans about to run onto the court. Beat writers who cover Virginia Tech athletics were musing aloud during media timeouts about how to rank the impending win vis-à-vis the win by the Tech football team over eventual national champ Ohio State in September.

Championship teams face these odds and then win these games. Virginia headed up 81 with the W.

– Column by Chris Graham