More impressive win than Harvard? UVA challenged, rallies, passes Davidson test

uva-basketball newLast week’s 76-27 evisceration of a good Harvard squad got the nation’s attention on third-ranked UVA. The 83-72 Virginia win on Tuesday over a game Davidson squad won’t get nearly as much attention, but it was more impressive.

Why? Davidson, 9-1 coming in, had everything going its way. The Wildcats led for all but the opening seconds of the first half, pushed the lead into double digits midway through, twice had the margin at 12.

Their slip-up was letting the Cavs back into it, down just four at the half, but even when the inevitable Cavalanche came midway through the second half, a pair of Justin Anderson threes igniting an 8-0 run that gave Virginia a 63-55 lead with 8:21 to go, Davidson hung around and kept things interesting into the final minutes.

That’s called getting somebody’s best shot, and it was a nice wake-up call for a UVA squad that hasn’t had much in the way of competition through its first 12 games. Only one of the wins was by fewer than 10, and in that one, an eight-point win over LaSalle in Brooklyn over the Thanksgiving holiday, Virginia led by as many as 20 and was never seriously threatened.

Big road wins at VCU and Maryland, big home wins over Harvard and George Washington, and Virginia had gone almost the entirety of its non-conference slate without much of a challenge.

Davidson, which will be an NCAA Tournament team, was the perfect foil for this squad Tuesday night, jumping out to the big early lead and putting pressure on a Virginia team that now knows what it feels to have to dig out of a hole.

That experience will prove invaluable sometime soon as ACC play begins this weekend.

– Column by Chris Graham

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Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

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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