Keep in mind, Virginia hasn’t lost at home in more than a year; the problem this season, until tonight, was, the Cavaliers couldn’t win on the road.
Now that the ‘Hoos have their first pelt, with the 75-66 win at Georgia Tech, you can start doing some math.
Sneak three more of those out, hold serve at home, and that’s a 14-6 finish in league play.
Win at, say, Louisville, at Boston College, get one more, and then do what you do at JPJ, and UVA is at 23 wins overall, and is a nine or 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s funny how we Virginia fans think, isn’t it?
The sky has been falling the past couple of Saturdays; now we’re thinking about March Madness.
Can’t overstate the impact of Jordan Minor
That seven minutes of garbage time at the end of the loss at NC State on Jan. 6 might be the most important seven minutes of the season for Virginia.
Because Jordan Minor, finally, played like the guy that we thought we were getting after he transferred in from Merrimack, where he’d averaged 17+ points per game last season.
That modest six points and three boards at the end of a blowout loss led to him getting the start at Wake Forest, another loss for UVA, but Minor had nine points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, and more than held his own on defense.
This week, in wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, Minor put up 16 points and five rebounds in the win over the Hokies, and 11 points and two rebounds tonight in the win in Atlanta.
On the defensive end, Minor, per stats from Synergy Sports, gave up two points in one-on-one matchups in his 24 minutes of floor time.
Defense was supposed to be what it was keeping him off the floor; he’d played zone for four years at Merrimack, and it can be tough to learn where you need to be in Tony Bennett’s Pack Line, especially for post defenders.
He’s given up one make now across three starts, while averaging 12 points and four boards.
We got the good iMac
I wrote yesterday about the statistical anomaly that is Isaac McKneely, the team’s second-leading scorer coming into today, averaging 11.4 points per game, though he’d only been in double-digits six times this season.
Pretty much feast or famine there.
Tonight, it was time to feast.
iMac had 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, 6-of-9 from three, including the dagger, a logo three with the shot clock winding down with 40 seconds left that stretched the UVA lead to nine.
McKneely is now shooting 48.9 percent (44-of-90) from three this year.
That’s almost Tony Bennett territory; Bennett still holds the career D1 mark, at 49.7 percent, over his four years at Wisconsin-Green Bay (1989-1992).
The emphasis on defense would come later.
Beekman owned … everything
Reece Beekman, ho-hum, 19 points, 11 assists, two steals in 33 minutes.
Bennett’s move to switch Beekman to Georgia Tech freshman point guard Naithan George would prove crucial.
George had been consistently touching the paint as the Jackets built an early 11-point lead.
With Beekman checking him, the Georgia Tech offense stagnated.
For the game, Beekman allowed five points on 1-of-4 shooting in his one-on-one matchups.
Nice all-around game for Ryan Dunn
Ryan Dunn hit an early three, and it wasn’t an end-of-shot-clock three – normal rhythm, got the kickout pass, drained it with confidence.
Dunn, once again, for the third straight game, had just four shot attempts from the field – he was 4-of-4 for nine points, and had 10 rebounds.
Defensively, Dunn gave up eight points on 3-of-8 shooting and blocked three shots.
His struggles at the free throw line, unfortunately, continue – and at this point, it’s got to be a mental thing.
Dunn missed both ends of a two-shot foul late, the second miss another airball.
Dunn was 8-of-9 from the line in the Nov. 16 win over Texas Southern; since, Dunn is (gasp!) 14-of-31 (45.2%) at the stripe.
Inside the numbers: defense
The TV broadcast crew on ACCN made the point at one stage in the second half: Georgia Tech was living and dying by the three.
The numbers in the postgame box score bore that point out.
Tech was 9-of-27 from three on the night. After a 5-of-9 start, that fifth make being a George three that made it 27-20 at the 5:15 mark of the first half, the Jackets would shoot 4-of-18 from three thereafter.
Next, look at their numbers at the rim: three makes in six (!) attempts.
That’s … astounding.
For reference, Virginia was 12-of-18 on shots at the rim on the night, and 11-of-23 from three.
Honestly, it’s amazing that the game was as close as it was, given those disparities.