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‘Fool’s gold’: Early barrage of threes papers over bad UVA offense fundamentals

tony bennett uva vt
UVA coach Tony Bennett. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Virginia leads by eight, but it feels like fool’s gold.” This is a comment from me on our AFP live coverage blog, timestamped 7:00 p.m., during the halftime break.

Maybe I know what I’m talking about.

Maybe, just maybe, I could get a wider audience for knowing what I’m talking about.

Will never happen.

Anyway, back to the point, that Virginia was up 29-21, but the Cavaliers were getting too much out of context.

Tech went scoreless for the final 6:10, and the difference in the game is three late shot clock threes by the ‘Hoos – one each from Kihei Clark, Sam Hauser and Trey Murphy III.

Another late shot clock three from Hauser would put Virginia up 42-34 with 13:18 to go.

More …

Well, let’s ask Tony Bennett his thoughts on what he was seeing.

“A little bit fool’s gold,” Bennett said after his team’s 65-51 loss to #19 Virginia Tech Saturday night.

Seriously, he could just let me do the pressers.

We all know he doesn’t like having to talk, even after wins.

“We made some at the end of the shot clock that it looks good, we maybe separated the lead a little bit, but we almost had to bail ourselves out with some of those at the end with certain guys, and we probably we took too many,” Bennett said.

I wrote on the live blog, after Tech had taken a 54-47 lead with 5:56 left, and Bennett had called a momentum timeout, that UVA was 10-of-23 from three and had 47 points, and was down, seven, inside of six to go.

Fool’s gold. Maybe a little bit of … GameStop stock being worth a million dollars a share, or whatever it is now.

The three-point shooting was great, but the fundamentals of the business just weren’t good.

“We were having a hard time getting post-ups or getting to the free throw line through drawing fouls or drives,” Bennett said.

Virginia was 2-of-7 on shots at the rim – coming in, according to Hoop-Math.com, UVA averaged 11.4 makes at the rim per outing, and shot 65.2 percent – and got just three makes inside the lane, and four free-throw attempts, all night.

It was, basically, three or die.

“They really bottled up the lane and defended, and then they were pretty quick to the threes, and sometimes we had to take them,” Bennett said. “Certainly wasn’t one of our better efforts, but partly due to their good defensive taking the lane away and then challenging, leaving us with some late threes, which is what you want to do when guarding the right way.”

Virginia, coming in having won 15 straight in the ACC, dating back to last season, was teetering as it was, but when 7’1” senior Jay Huff, who had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, got into foul trouble, picking up his third foul at the 14:23 mark on a Keve Aluma short jumper, things really started to bog down.

The Hauser three a minute later would give Virginia some breathing room at 42-34, but from there, you’d get a Reece Beekman free throw, a Murphy backdoor dunk, and a Huff tip-in at the 8:25 mark that put UVA up 47-44.

A Hunter Cattoor three tied the game with 7:22 to go, and then Huff picked up his fourth foul – one of the most head-scratching fouls from an otherwise heady player you can force yourself to imagine, coming after a bad-pass turnover by Kihei Clark on a high-post pass that was broken up by Tech point guard Wabissa Bede, who tipped the ball toward the backcourt, tried to track it down, but was held by Huff.

A 7’1” guy holding a 6’1” guy 45 feet from the hoop, hoping no one would notice.

From there, it was a squash match.

Virginia came up empty on its next 12 (!) possessions, as veteran guys like Clark, Hauser, Murphy, panicked, devolved into hero ball, in an ugly scene not becoming of a Tony Bennett-recruited and -coached team.

It’s one thing to lose.

Another thing to be defeated.

It’s a rare sight to see, but Virginia allowed itself to be defeated Saturday night.

Me saying that, yeah, I get it.

They weren’t going to ask me to do the pressers anyway.

Story by Chris Graham


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