Inside the Numbers: Something for Virginia to build on?

UVA basketballVirginia scored 73 points against a pretty good Louisville defensive unit in the loss at the Yum! Center on Saturday.

That is a UVA season-high, and the first time the ‘Hoos scored more than 65 in a game all season.

More eye-opening than that is how many possessions there were in the game: 57.

That comes to 1.281 points per possession, so if you were thinking that Saturday felt a bit like watching the 2019 UVA team on the offensive end, you weren’t far off.

The efficiency came largely because junior Tomas Woldetensae was out of his mind: scoring 27 points, making 10 of his 13 shot attempts overall, going 7-of-10 from deep.

Woldetensae was doing his best Kyle Guy impression in the second half, running off pindown screens, catching and shooting off dribble penetration from Kihei Clark, who himself had a game: 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 4-of-6 from three.

If there’s one thing you’d offer as criticism for Woldetensae afterward, it would be that he didn’t get a shot off in the final three minutes, which, yeah, OK, you could credit Louisville for some of that, but then, come on, he was due a heat-check miss, maybe two.

Instead, Virginia got a lot of bad offense down the stretch from Mamadi Diakite, who went 0-of-3 in the final three minutes, two of the misses from three, and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on his way to an inefficient 10-point, 3-of-11 shooting day.

That has been what you’ve been seeing a lot of from the 2020 UVA team: Diakite, hunting shots out of the rhythm of the offense, going out of his way with pained expressions and the like that he’s trying to carry the team on his back, when as it turns out, there are weapons out there that are good options.

The offense flowed so well really all afternoon long, but particularly in the second half, when Virginia had nine assists on its 13 made baskets.

What happened on the defensive end in the first half?

Sometimes guys just make tough shots, and that seemed to be the case for the entirety of the opening 20 minutes.

Louisville made six of its first seven from deep on its way to a 42-point first half in which the Cardinals shot 60 percent (18-of-30) and went 8-of-15 from three.

Tony Bennett got the problem corrected in the second half, with Louisville going just 7-of-19 from the field and 1-of-7 from three.

The issue, then, was an egregious issue with the whistles. Virginia was assessed with 15 fouls in the second half, sending the Louisville gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight to the line a ridiculous 24 times.

As this was happening, Louisville coach Chris Mack, apparently expecting even more home cooking, picked up a tech with 3:25 to go, and the calls got even tighter on the Cards’ offensive end in the closing stretch.

Whatever. Virginia outplayed Louisville on its floor.

Mack knows it. Now the challenge for Bennett and his team is to build on this over the next few weeks.

Story by Chris Graham

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