Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth: #11 Virginia will take ugly win

virginia basketballVirginia, of course, had no right or reason to win Tuesday at Wake Forest, which led by 14 with eight left, still led by 10 inside of two minutes, by seven inside of 15 seconds.

The math, no, it doesn’t add up, except when you account for the Cavaliers making eight of their last nine from the field, their last four three-point shots, after starting 1-of-13 from behind the arc.

Yeah, crazy.

UVA scored 14 points in the final 54 seconds, nine in the final 14 seconds.


Wake was just 7-of-14 at the foul line in the final 1:05.

Head scratching. The Demon Deacons kept opening the door.

But the Cavs had to barge in, too. As much as you might want to say that Wake Forest gave this one away, it still wouldn’t have mattered if Virginia, credit where credit is due, didn’t do some things on its end to make it matter.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 18 in the last 9:05, going 5-of-6 from the field and 6-of-6 at the line.

Evan Nolte, who hadn’t made a shot in a live game since the Magna Charta, got an offensive rebound stickback to keep the game in hailing distance.

Marial Shayok, late of the witness protection program, had 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field on the night, including a pair of threes, the second with 14 seconds left that cut the Wake lead from seven to four.

Brogdon hit another three after two Devin Thomas misses at the line, and then after Bryant Crawford made one of two to give the Deacons a two-point lead, Virginia had its last chance.

Wake coach Danny Manning coached those last four seconds about as poorly as you can imagine. UVA was out of timeouts, so Virginia coach Tony Bennett wasn’t able to get anything drawn up from the sideline.

It helped that Wake Forest didn’t pressure the inbounds pass, and allowed guard Devin Hall to catch the ball basically unmolested at halfcourt.

Hall was then practically given an escort into the frontcourt, and he found Darius Thompson, who is good for one shot attempt per game lately, for his one shot attempt Tuesday night.

Thompson had time to step back and release, and sure, the shot banked in from an angle that even experienced H-O-R-S-E trick-shot artists would call bullshit on.

But look at the replay: Thompson was also fouled on the shot, not called, but he was hacked.

Shot goes, writers on deadline have to do massive rewrites – I just ripped my story up and started from scratch.

Wake scored 1.216 points per possession in the second half, shot 57.1 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes, went 6-of-9 from three-point range.

You won’t remember that Virginia started the second half 8-of-20 from the floor, that Wake should have won by 15.

You’ll take this win, ugly as it is, the first for Virginia in ACC play in 2016.

Because a win on a banked three at the buzzer is infinitely better than losing on the road at a team that was 1-6 in conference play.

– Column by Chris Graham


uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by June 10, 2019, and will retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
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