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Reece Beekman made two 20-point-a-game scorers look silly this week

Chris Graham
reece beekman
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Reece Beekman puts up nice counting numbers. In Virginia’s 84-62 win over Syracuse, for instance, Beekman had 13 points and eight assists, no turnovers, in 26 minutes.

Solid.

And in the 59-47 win over #14 Texas A&M on Wednesday, it was 12 points and five assists, one turnover.

That comes to 12.5 points a game, 6.5 assists a game, 60 percent shooting – he was 5-of-7 from the floor on Saturday, 4-of-8 on Wednesday.

Get that consistently from your point guard, you’re going to do OK.

And then you factor in that whatever Beekman gives you on the offensive end is a plus, considering what he does on the defensive end.

Syracuse point guard Judah Mintz came into today’s game averaging 20.4 points and 4.1 assists per game, shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from three.

His counting numbers today: five points, 2-of-8 shooting, 0-of-2 from three, one assist.

reece beekman defense
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

A&M point guard Wade Love was averaging 20.0 points per game going into Wednesday’s game.

His numbers against Beekman: nine points on 2-of-10 shooting, five turnovers.

Oh, and you probably didn’t know this, but Beekman is playing on a gimpy knee, to the point that he was a game-time decision on Wednesday, and had to leave Saturday’s game for a few minutes in the second half with the training staff.

Even a less-than-100 percent Beekman draws the toughest defensive assignment, no questions asked.

“I mean, no, I don’t have to ask. The team pretty much assumes that,” Beekman told reporters after Saturday’s game. “They tell me early in the week, like, oh, you got such and such. But no, it’s always a great challenge for me. As much as it’s my individual defense, it’s also the team as well.”

UVA coach Tony Bennett picked up on that point, about the role that team defense plays in the individual defensive matchups.

The Pack Line is at its best when teammates behind the play can slide over to cut off driving lanes, when a guy like Ryan Dunn is back there protecting the rim.

“Reece is a very good individual defender, but we talked about it before the game, it’s not Reece or whoever’s matched up on Judah, it’s us versus him, and we have to make it tough. He’s so good at drawing fouls and making moves, and we just tried to, you know, we said, own the lane, jam the lane,” Bennett said.

Still, it helps having a guy with the talent of Beekman making it hard for point guards to even get a sliver of light on the perimeter or an opening into the paint.

Mintz was the focal point of the defensive game plan for UVA because he averaged 19.0 points per game against the ‘Hoos last season, and he was coming off a career-high 33 points in Syracuse’s 80-57 win over LSU in the ACC/SEC Challenge on Tuesday.

It may have helped Beekman that he was able to get familiar with Mintz last spring as the two went through the NBA Draft evaluation process.

“Reece and Judah played so much together in the NBA Combine, all their workouts, so they obviously have familiarity with each other,” Bennett said. “His game against LSU was terrific. And you know, sometimes when you have a big game, and you’re rolling, and then it, you know, can be tough, but I thought it was a good team defense, and then Reece, certainly, you know, he really was locked in because he knew that was going to be important in the game. And obviously, Judah can play, and we respect him, but that was a key.”

Beekman has a high level of respect for Mintz.

He just happened to have his number on Saturday.

“I give high praise to Judah Mintz,” Beekman said. “He’s one of the best guards in the league, I feel like one of the top creators for anybody, so that’s always a challenge that I look forward to playing against him.”

No offense to Mintz, to Taylor, but what you saw Beekman do to them this week is just what he does, even to his teammates in practice.

“Going up against him in practice isn’t fun, I’m not gonna lie,” UVA guard Isaac McKneely said, after his 22-point outing in Saturday’s win.

“I think it’s just his IQ,” McKneely said, speaking from experience. “Of course, he slides really well, he’s really strong and stuff like that. But I feel like his IQ and his anticipation, like he has the best anticipation I’ve ever seen in my life, just darting passing lanes and stuff like that. He’s gonna be a really good defender, of course, in college, but even at the next level, he’s gonna be a freak defender.”

Team Coverage: Virginia 84, Syracuse 62

uva cheerleaders
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

 

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].