Chris Graham: Rivalry karma
Throw the records out and everything else when Virginia and Virginia Tech get together.
OK, so Tech’s 47-45 win on Sunday came in a game that you could also say set basketball back a few decades.
Seth Greenberg, whose team had come in 0-4 in the ACC and seemed on the verge of an ugly implosion after blowing an eight-point second-half lead at home against North Carolina on Thursday, will take it nonetheless.
“It gives us something to build on,” Greenberg said. “This is just a baby step. Just as I told the team in the locker room, this is terrific. But we’ve got to understand how we did this. I told them in our timeout that if they play as hard as they can for the last two minutes, they will really feel something special at the end of this. Fortunately for us, we were able to come up with a stop at the end and finish the game.”
For the Hokies (12-7, 1-4 ACC), the win may have also been a bit of karma after a mediocre UVa. team swept a much better Tech team last season. The pair of losses could have been a key factor that kept the Hokies on the outside looking in once again when NCAA bids were handed out.
Virginia (15-3, 2-2 ACC) had come in on a bit of a high – winning by 32 on the road at Georgia Tech after falling just short on the road at Duke.
“We struggled to shoot the ball. We struggled from the three. We struggled from the free throw line. We even missed some layups,” UVa. coach Tony Bennett said. “I told our guys, what else can you do but take those shots. They showed tremendous heart trying to get back into the game. Even with all of that cold shooting there were still opportunities for them to win this game. When you look at it statistically, it was obvious that it’s hard to be successful when shots aren’t dropping.”
The Cavaliers shot just 32.6 percent from the field for the game and also failed to take advantage of a big gap in free-throw attempts (UVa. went to the line 22 times to seven attempts by Tech) by making only 14 of the attempts from the charity stripe.
Virginia Tech did what nobody else has been able to do in 2011-2012 – force the ball out of Mike Scott’s hands. Scott scored eight of UVa.’s first 15 points but scored just two the rest of the way, and took only two shots in the second half.
“They really sandwiched him,” Bennett said. “I thought he found some people as we were cutting off of him. We have to keep going to him, but he is really drawing a ton of attention. When that happens, we have to make the next pass and capitalize on that.”