Inside the Numbers: #1 UVA was the knife, #7 Virginia Tech the hot butter

uva basketballVirginia Tech came into Tuesday’s game at #1 UVA ranked 19th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.com. It left Charlottesville ranked 38th.

How good were the ‘Hoos in their 81-59 win over the seventh-ranked Hokies?

You see that number, 81. Virginia had 54 offensive possessions Tuesday night to get those 81 points.

Duke, the nation’s other #1-ranked team, because, this is America, we like controversy, it scored 91 in its 95-91 overtime loss on Monday to Syracuse.

Those 91 points came on 91 possessions.

That’s 10 more points on 37 more possessions.

“It is a little bit of pick your poison, because I don’t think that there is ever necessarily a non-shooter or a non-offensive player on the floor,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said.

More Williams: “I think they are incredibly sound in what they do. They are doing more than they have done in the past. I think it utilizes that talent in different ways. But there is not a guy that they are going to put on the floor that can’t make shots or make a play for one another.”

Five different Cavaliers connected from three-point range in the 44-point first half – 44 points on 26 possessions, without a single free-throw attempt.

The range in height: 5’9” Kihei Clark to 7’1” Jay Huff.

Ty Jerome hit or assisted on nine of the 10 makes – draining 4-of-5 and assisting on five triples.

Virginia was 10-of-14 from three by the half, the last three coming on a buzzer-beater by Clark that made the score 44-22 at the break.

The second half wasn’t nearly as efficient. Virginia would score 37 points on 27 possessions, 1.370 points per possession.

That rate would lead the nation, by far. Gonzaga is currently the top-rated offensive in points per possession, per KenPom.com, scoring 1.244 points per possession.

Virginia, incidentally, is fourth, scoring 1.200 points per possession.

Which is actually better than Duke, which is fifth nationally, scoring 1.198 points per possession.

You know Duke, with the top three picks in next year’s draft in its freshman class? You’ve surely seen highlights on ESPN, anyway.

Since you don’t live under a rock, you know that Duke is the next opponent on the schedule for Virginia.

The narrative in the walk-up is supposed to be that it’s Duke’s talented freshmen against Virginia’s older, wiser, technically proficient, OK, boring guys.

The older, wiser, etc., guys just had a game in which they scored 1.500 points per possession against a Top 20 defense.

Which is now a Top 40 defense, after Virginia shot 58.5 percent.

Fun note: only one UVA player who attempted a shot ended the game at less than 50 percent from the floor.

That would be Marco Anthony, who was 0-for-1 from the floor in garbage time.

Eight other ‘Hoos shot the ball, and all were 50 percent or better for the night.

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 May 15, 2019, and expected to retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.


The book, with additional reporting by Scott Ratcliffe and Zach Pereles, 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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