#4 UVA fights off feisty VCU, wins 57-49

UVA basketballFourth-ranked UVA shot 29.5 percent and had 12 turnovers, but the ‘Hoos outscored a game VCU squad 19-6 in the final 6:30 to post a 57-49 win on Sunday in snowy Charlottesville.

Virginia (9-0) made only two of its first 16 shots from the floor in the second half, and trailed the Rams (7-3) 43-38 inside of seven minutes to go.

The look and feel of the game at that stage brought to mind what the critics like to say about Tony Bennett teams: that they can’t win big games in March because they’re just not good enough at putting the ball in the hoop on a consistent enough basis.

Of note here is that the Cavaliers only made three more shots from the field the rest of the way, but the difference Sunday was how UVA was able to get to the foul line.

Virginia was 26-of-30 at the stripe, countering VCU’s aggressive ball pressure with dribble-drives into the paint that forced whistles.

The ebb and flow for the first roughly 34 minutes was reminiscent of UVA’s famous loss to UMBC in the NCAA Tournament back in March.

The Rams dictated with defense, not allowing the Cavaliers to get any kind of offensive flow, bogging down the screens in the Mover-Blocker offense with enough grabbing and clutching to frustrate a beer-league hockey team.

One key difference from the UMBC game was that VCU wasn’t able to get anything going on the offensive end.

The Rams also shot 29.5 percent from the floor for the game, and was just 6-of-29 from three-point range, just under half their shots coming from beyond the arc, evidence that they were a bit too willing to settle for jump shots.

Still, VCU had that 43-38 lead inside of seven minutes left, after holding Virginia to the two field goals and nine total points in the opening 13 minutes-plus of the second half.

It would be Ty Jerome who would ignite things from there. A driving layup and then a three with 5:39 left tied the game.

Another Jerome three, with 4:17 left, was part of a five-point play for Virginia, as Kyle Guy was fouled as Jerome was draining the three, and Guy made both ends of the ensuing free-throw situation, putting Virginia up four, at 49-45.

VCU made one shot from the floor the rest of the way, a three by De’Riante Jenkins with 1:59 left that briefly brought the Rams back to down five.

The Rams were 1-for-their-last-11 from the floor in the final 4:03, missing their last seven shots.

Isaac Vann led VCU with 10 points. Marcus Santos-Silva had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Rams.

VCU’s leading scorer, Marcus Evans, who came in averaging 14.3 points per game, had just three, on 1-of-10 shooting.

Guy had 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting to lead Virginia. Jerome had 14, also on 4-of-13 shooting, and a team-best eight rebounds.

Kihei Clark played the game with a brace on his left wrist, injured in the win over Morgan State on Monday, and had nine points and a team-best four assists in 33 minutes.

It was announced after the game that Clark will undergo surgery on the wrist injury on Monday. Bennett was noncommittal after the game on the matter of how long Clark may be out, but the word floating around right now is 4-6 weeks.

A week and a half of however long it will be will come on the exam break. Virginia’s next game is Dec. 19 at South Carolina.

Story by Chris Graham

UVA Basketball Fans!

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