#3 UVA takes care of business against Wake: But, man, that was ugly

UVA basketballThe UVA win over Wake Forest Tuesday night was about as boring as you can imagine, and that was actually a good thing.

“Yes, there was the hype for a rivalry game, and of course playing a top 10 team and playing at Duke. But, how are we going to respond? We responded the right way,” coach Tony Bennett said after the 68-45 win.

No slight at all to Wake Forest, but, yeah, that was a comedown game, from the intensity of Duke, with the projected top two picks in the June NBA draft.

The only question heading in was, would the ‘Hoos look past Wake?

The answer came early: UVA jumped out to a 25-3 lead eight minutes in, connecting on 10 of their first 15 shots.

The defensive intensity, also there: Wake Forest missed 14 of its first 15 field-goal attempts.

Then came the lack of focus that you had to fear. Wake made eight of its last 13 from the floor, and the UVA offense bogged down, on 4-of-16 shooting in the final 11:45, and it was 36-23 at the break.

“I told them at halftime that I thought we got seduced, or it was a little bit of fool’s gold, into shot selection. … I got on them a little bit, not too bad, and said, Who are you?’ Bennett said.

What he said next in the presser suggests that maybe Bennett’s getting into them was a bit harsher than he wanted to let on.

“The start was amazing basketball, both offensively and defensively, and maybe the ball doesn’t go in, but you can’t all of the sudden start trying to turn it into a pickup game, as it looked like for stretches, and that wasn’t acceptable,” the coach said.

It felt that way to me – like a YMCA game, no offense to YMCAs.

The train got back on the tracks in the second half, defensively, at least. Wake shot 29.6 percent from the floor in the second half, and turned the ball over seven times, in a 29-possession half.

The offense, meh: UVA shot 30.8 percent in the second half, 3-of-10 from three-point range, five turnovers.

The effort, the focus, that wasn’t there for that long stretch of the first half, after getting out to the big lead, was there after halftime.

Bottom line, then: mission accomplished.

Got the win, no drama, on to Saturday, at Notre Dame.

“I thought we needed to address some things defensively, and it’s a little different, the way Duke could exploit you wasn’t quite the same as Wake Forest,” Bennett said. “I like how we corrected some things to start the game defensively that weren’t there against Duke. We were really committed together to stopping the ball. That was the point of emphasis in practice for a couple days, and we did a good job of that. It’s always good to come back home.”

Column by Chris Graham


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