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It wasn’t pretty, or was it? Virginia grinds down Pitt, 66-61

uva basketball
Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

My eyes maybe were playing tricks possibly. The game just didn’t have a good look, but in the end, Virginia notched a hard-fought ACC road win over Pitt, 66-61, Wednesday night.

Statistics often bear out the truth, and a quick glance at the numbers indicate that the Cavaliers played a solid game in defeating the Panthers for the second time this season. Unlike in the first matchup, Dec. 4 in Charlottesville, Virginia didn’t need a miracle rally to win; tonight the Cavaliers had the roles reversed and did hold on to win.

UVA offense: A model of efficiency

Struggling most of the season to establish a consistent level of offensive play, tonight Virginia scored 66 points on 58 possessions. Shooting well tends to make offenses efficient, and against the Panthers, UVA connected on 50 percent from the floor.

The Cavaliers needed a juiced-up offensive outing to counteract a strong offensive effort from Pitt, which also made over 50 percent from the floor, scoring 61 points on 58 possessions.

Late first-half offensive surge sets tone for UVA

Trailing 22-17 with 3:32 remaining in the first half, the Cavaliers responded with a 10-0 run in a stretch of 1:44, making five of its final six shots of the half. Virginia started the game 7-of-23 from the floor.

With Pitt’s big men out, Virginia shines

John Hugley, who scored a game-high 23 points for Pittsburgh, was whistled for two fouls in a 25-second stretch in the second Half. The first foul was a flagrant one. Just seconds after Hugley was whistled for his second foul, his frontcourt teammate, Mouhamadou Gueye, picked up his fourth, sending him to the sidelines for the next nine minutes.

With the Pitt bigs sitting, Virginia took advantage. A Reece Beekman dunk gave the Cavaliers a seven-point lead with about 13 minutes left. The Panthers did claw back to pull to within one, 45-44, but UVA again made a surge – a 9-0 run over the next two minutes pushed the margin back to 10.

Beekman emerging

Reece Beekman, who has been a model of defensive efficiency this season, had his most complete performance of the season with 19 points and eight assists, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Since the home loss to Clemson, Beekman is averaging 11.3 points and connecting on 57 percent from the floor.

Story by Scott German

augusta free press
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