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