Home Five Observations: Who gets the Oscar for best supporting actor in Virginia’s win over NC State?

Five Observations: Who gets the Oscar for best supporting actor in Virginia’s win over NC State?

Chris Graham
uva ryan dunn dunk
Ryan Dunn. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

I’m going to jump right in here with my first observation, on who the Academy would honor in that rock fight of a Virginia win over NC State in OT on Wednesday.

First, the nominees:

  • Ryan Dunn has the counting numbers to be the betting favorite: 13 points, 12 rebounds, six (!) blocks.
  • Jordan Minor had 10 points, nine boards, and had the toughest defensive assignment, 6’9”, officially 275, but the consensus on press row was, closer to 320, DJ Burns, and matched up on Burns without needing double help.
  • You can never go wrong with Reece Beekman: 11 points, six assists, three steals, 40 exhausting minutes on defense against State’s quartet of potent guards.
  • Taine Murray, who first subbed in at the 6:28 mark of the first half, and finished with 11 points, including a pair of threes, including the back-breaker in the OT.

Who gets the statue tonight? You’re going to have to scroll down.

Lovin’ what Minor gives this team

uva jordan minor dj burns
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Admit it: you’d given up on Jordan Minor.

I was as excited as I could be when we landed Minor from Merrimack as a grad transfer, because he averaged 17.4 points per game as a senior in 2022-2023, and a deep dive into how he did that told us that he was dominant in the paint.

And then: Minor couldn’t get on the court.

Tony Bennett decided to go with 6’9” stretch four Jake Groves as the starter at the five, and stayed there for the longest time.

Since Minor, who at 6’8”, 242, is a grown-ass man, played his way into the starting lineup, this team has been different.

He’s averaging 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, shooting 56.7 percent from the floor, and bodying up to guys like Burns, who is physically an NFL offensive lineman, and as a hooper has deft touch inside of seven feet.

Minor’s stat line tonight: 10 points, nine boards, 30 minutes of having an NFL offensive lineman leaning on him.

That Minor was able to D up Burns one-on-one was huge. The doubles that Bennett tried to use on Burns in the first game, the 76-60 loss at State on Jan. 6, allowed the Pack to shoot 10-of-28 from three.

NC State from three tonight: 4-of-14.

This is the early Oscar favorite.

Six blocks?

Mf’er, that Ryan Dunn.

He doesn’t create his own shot, but he finishes at the rim – he was 5-of-7 at the basket tonight.

And then, 12 rebounds.

And … six blocks?

On top of that, in 35 minutes, the guys he was guarding shot the ball three times, made none of those shots, for a grand total of zero points allowed on D.

Going to be hard to beat.


Ho, hum: 11 points, six assists, three steals.

We take Reece Beekman for granted.

Like we do Dustin Hoffman.

Number Taine

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Taine Murray. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

He’s #10 in your box score; “Number Taine” is the nickname that the young’un of one of my good friends has for Murray.

All Taine Murray does is, get three minutes against Virginia Tech, three minutes against Georgia Tech, but because he keeps himself ready, he’s there to score 11, knock down some big shots, come up with the two biggest rebounds of the game, and then slink back into the witness protection program for a while, because that’s his role.

He deserves better.

And the Oscar goes to …

I’m a fan of plucky.

Ryan Dunn had a monster game, in front of a ton of NBA scouts, and he’s going to make a lot of money in years coming to play this game.

Taine Murray, I’m not breaking any news here, isn’t, going to make a ton of money playing hoops down the road, but tonight, this win doesn’t happen if he isn’t the last guy that Bennett inserts into the lineup, and comes out scoring 11 and putting up a game-best +19 on the plus-minus scale.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].