Home Virginia grounds, pounds Texas A&M, 59-47, in ACC/SEC Challenge
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Virginia grounds, pounds Texas A&M, 59-47, in ACC/SEC Challenge

Chris Graham
andrew rohde uva basketball
Andrew Rohde drives to the hoop in UVA’s 59-47 win over Texas A&M. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Tony Bennett, the staff and the Virginia kids had a rough week last week down in Florida. They took out their frustrations on #14 Texas A&M in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.

A&M, averaging 79.3 points per game coming in, couldn’t get to 50 on Virginia on Wednesday, shooting 30.4 percent from the field and missing 19 of their 23 three-point attempts in a 59-47 UVA win.

One other statline of note: the Aggies (6-2) had 16 turnovers in their 62 offensive possessions, equating to a turnover rate of 25.8 percent – a full 10+ points higher than their season average (15.2 percent).

Virginia (6-1) did that to what had been the nation’s fourth-best offense per KenPom.com coming in.

The offense did enough to give the Cavaliers a double-digit cushion for most of the second half.

It was 27-26 Virginia at the half, and then the ‘Hoos opened on a 14-2 run over the first 5:07 of the second half to get the lead to 13.

UVA would go scoreless over the next 5:35 – yeah, here we go again, right – but the Aggies were only able to get the margin down to five because they missed five straight shots from the field over that stretch.

The lid finally came off with Ryan Dunn throwing down a thunderous dunk, sparking a 14-5 UVA run over the next four minutes that got the cushion back to double digits, at 55-41 on a Rohde three with 5:12 to go.

A&M only got it as close as eight thereafter.

All five of Virginia’s starters scored in double figures – Andrew Rohde with 13 points, a team-high six rebounds and three assists leading the way.

Dunn, Reece Beekman and Jake Groves each had 12 points, and Isaac McKneely had 10.

Virginia shot 41.3 percent from the floor and 36.0 percent (9-of-25) from three.

The one thing that didn’t go the way the good guys would have wanted was what you would have expected – rebounding.

A&M came in leading the nation in offensive rebounding percentage at 46.2 percent, and was in the vicinity of that tonight – 43.9 percent, with 18 offensive boards leading to 16 second-chance points.

That was the only weak area for Virginia on a night that saw Beekman burnish his candidacy for a repeat as ACC Defensive Player of the Year by holding A&M point guard Wade Taylor, who was averaging 20.0 points per game coming in, to nine points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field, with four assists and five turnovers.

But then there was what Dunn was doing on the defensive end – in addition to the 12 points, he had five rebounds, all on the defensive glass, along with five blocks and three steals.

Huge win here for Virginia, beating the best team on the schedule to date by double-digits, and holding them to 47 points in the process.

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].