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Inside the Numbers: #3 UVA gets live game action against 2-3 zone

chris graham uvaNotre Dame coach Mike Brey tried a 2-3 zone to slow down hot-shooting UVA in the second half, which, good.

What that means for the Cavaliers is about 15 minutes of live game action against the 2-3, the base defense, of course, at Syracuse, but something you also see used by the likes of Duke, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, for stretches, mixed in with man.

The Virginia zone offense looked good, though you might not have thought that when you first saw it.

Notre Dame was able to briefly cut what had been a 17-point halftime deficit to 12, but even then, the ‘Hoos were shooting a modest 6-of-13 from the floor in the second half, and would go on to shoot 48.5 percent overall (16-of-33) in the final 20 minutes.

The zone-breaker, as you’d expect, was De’Andre Hunter, who you may remember struggled in that role in the December win at South Carolina, in a game that saw him shoot just 2-of-10 from the field, and have three of his shots blocked.

On Saturday, Hunter was at his best: scoring 19, nine in the second half, when he shot 4-of-7 from the floor, a mix of dribble-drives to the rim and short pull-up jumpers.

Virginia also shot the ball well from long-range in the second half, connecting on four of its nine attempts from three-point land, and 8-of-18 for the game, a nice bounceback after the 3-of-17 shooting number in the 72-70 loss at Duke a week ago.

The Cavaliers were 16-of-32 on two-point jump shots for the game, good numbers for the mid-range game.

Syracuse is going to zone you no matter what, because that’s what they do. Georgia Tech will zone primarily, again, what they do.

The Dukes and Virginia Techs that like to have zone as an option if dribble penetration is leading to rim runs and open short jumpers are going to be less likely to go that route if Virginia is knocking down those shots.

Column by Chris Graham