Inside the Numbers: Virginia now knows how opponents feel

UVA basketballVirginia is usually the one making opponents score points on a limited number of possessions, with the way it turns teams over. Tuesday night, it was NC State limiting the ‘Hoos in terms of scoring chances.

UVA had 16 turnovers on 67 offensive possessions, so, right off the bat, you’re at 51 scoring chances.

“That’s not been our formula for success. We always talk about how you have to eliminate losing first, taking care of the ball, defensive rebounding and transition baskets, and we did not do a good job in those areas,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told reporters afterward.

Which, yeah, it wasn’t just the paucity of scoring opportunities.

NC State also generated additional scoring chances on its end with 16 offensive rebounds – there’s that number, 16, again.

And because the Pack took good care of the ball – only eight turnovers – State ended up with 12 more shots from the field.

Virginia was able to get good looks when it wasn’t turning the ball over, shooting a respectable 46.2 percent from the floor, and connecting on 4-of-10 from three-point range.

But back to those turnovers: they helped fuel a 14-2 advantage for State in fast-break points, which is just eye-popping when you’re talking about a Virginia team giving up 14 fast-break points in a game.

Fast breaks fueled by live-ball turnovers and offensive rebounds are how you can shoot 34.4 percent from the floor and take the #3 team in the country to overtime.

“Usually when you give up that many offensive rebounds and that many turnovers, you’re not going to be successful,” Bennett said, obvious understatement there, but then, it was Bennett, who is nothing if not understated.

Now, it’s NC State coach Kevin Keatts’ turn.

“I told my guys there is a thin line between winning and losing,” Keatts understated.

Looking at the numbers, I can’t figure out how his team ended up on the wrong side of that line.

What was up with Ty Jerome?

Bennett hinted in his postgame that Jerome was playing with tightness in his back. That could explain why it looked like Jerome was struggling so much with ball pressure.

Jerome often turned his body back to his defender to protect the ball when he was on the perimeter, cutting down on angles for passes to the wings and the post.

His four turnovers were the second-most he had on the season. Jerome had five in Virginia’s 100-64 win over Marshall on Dec. 31, in a game that had 76 possessions, obviously a much faster-paced game there.

Credit where credit is due: he gritted his way to 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting and six assists.

Key play

Braxton Key had one assist, but it was the most important one of the game. After Markell Johnson opened the OT with a three that put State up 58-55, Virginia was in desperate need of a response.

Key, dribbling at the top of the key, saw Jay Huff at the rim, threw a perfect lob pass, and Huff threw it down, was fouled in the process, made the free throw, and, momentum reversed.

Key also had eight points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench.

Huff, for his part, had eight points in 15 minutes off the bench, making all three of his shots from the floor, average distance: zero feet.

Just one rebound for Huff. When you’re 7’1”, you need to snare more than one board.

Column by Chris Graham


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