Home Virginia needs to clamp down on Armando Bacot: Easier said than done

Virginia needs to clamp down on Armando Bacot: Easier said than done

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Image courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Armando Bacot had 29 points and 22 rebounds in North Carolina’s 74-58 win over Virginia way, way back on Jan. 8.

Bacot, who should have been the ACC Player of the Year, somehow wasn’t, will be an obvious focal point for UVA coach Tony Bennett heading into Thursday night.

If there’s anything for fans to look for, it would be a repeat performance from what they saw in last night’s 51-50 win over Louisville, in which Virginia was able to hold Cardinals center Sydney Curry to six points and seven rebounds in 18 foul-plagued minutes.

Curry had lit up Virginia for 24 points and 14 rebounds on Saturday in the Cavaliers’ 71-61 win at Louisville.

“Yeah, the defense again, we had a few breakdowns here and there, but our guys knew that was the ticket tonight, and it’s the ticket all the time, and then again we just tried to keep adding some quality offense with that. They did the job,” Bennett said last night. “We tried to trap a little better at times and just make him earn his looks, and that’s what these guys did on the perimeter guys for the most part. And whether it was Kadin or Papi or, you know, when we trapped, it made it a little more difficult for him. He’s a strong man, too.”


As Curry had done on Saturday, Bacot, a 6’11” junior, did all of his damage at the rim in the matchup in Chapel Hill.

Bacot had nine offensive rebounds and was 12-of-16 on layups and dunks in that one.

That’s the hard part about trying to counter Bacot – he doesn’t necessarily need to be fed the ball to be effective; he can go get points himself by working the boards.

The challenge is there for Virginia bigs Kadin Shedrick and Francisco Caffaro, who didn’t come close to living up to the challenge first time out.

The duo combined for two points and two rebounds in 36 forgettable minutes.

Virginia is going to need a lot more from those two, and from Jayden Gardner, who had a modest 10 points (5-of-10 FG) and seven rebounds in Chapel Hill.

Gardner will need to keep up with UNC power forward Brady Manek, who had 19 points, and was 5-of-9 from three-point range in the January game.

Virginia has grown a lot since these two first hooked up. That team wasn’t anywhere near an NCAA Tournament team; the team taking the floor tonight might play its way into a bid with an upset win.

“Yeah, that’s what I like about this team. I said from where we were to start the season, they’ve improved,” Bennett said. “Florida State, we had our chances, that was a hard loss, and we did some things that were uncharacteristic in that game from a defensive standpoint, but overall the team has improved. Individuals have improved, and the team has improved. That means a lot to me, because you want to be healthy, and you want to be improved and playing good basketball at this time of the year, and I think these guys are doing that.

“This is an opportunity you want,” Bennett said. “It’s an important game for us. They all are. I hope we’ll show that we’re a better team, but it’ll take a good one, for sure.”

Story by Chris Graham



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