Home Virginia suffocates #14 Texas A&M: Stat sheet says one thing, scoreboard says another
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Virginia suffocates #14 Texas A&M: Stat sheet says one thing, scoreboard says another

Scott German
ryan dunn dunk
Ryan Dunn throws down two of his 12 points in Virginia’s 59-47 win over Texas A&M. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned Lies, and statistics.” Twain, no doubt if he were alive, would be a fan of Virginia Cavaliers basketball.

Tuesday night, No. 14 Texas A&M did what most experts believed would happen against Virginia.

The Aggies outrebounded the Cavaliers by 12, grabbed 18 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points, and made more free throws than UVA attempted.

The result?

Virginia 59, Texas A&M 47.

And somewhere, Twain is smiling.

So, statistics be damned, how that happened in sold-out JPJ Wednesday evening requires a closer look at that scoresheet.

First, the Virginia starting five was quite efficient and effective the entire game.

Exactly how efficient?

All five starters reached double-digits, while each playing 30-plus minutes.

The starters pounced on Texas A&M early, opening a quick 8-2 lead. Isaac Mckneely knocked down back-to-back three-pointers, both from an assist from Reece Beekman.

For the contest, UVA’s starters had 13 assists on 20 baskets. Taine Murray had the lone bench assist, in the second half on a feed to Andrew Rohde.

The Aggies had a brief lead in the first half, and that ended up being the only lead they would have in the game.

Opening the second half with the starting lineup back on the floor, Virginia, as it did to begin the game, bolted out of the gates.

The Cavaliers scored seven straight and went on a 14-2 run, building a 41-28 lead.

Virginia somehow survived a five-minute drought, in which the ‘Hoos were able to take only one shot, and that shot failed to draw rim. Texas A&M went on an 8-0 run to pull within five at 41-36.

But on the next possession, Ryan Dunn ended the drought by slashing to the basket and throwing down a thundering, one-handed jam.

Order restored.

It was Virginia’s first Top 25 win of the season. And here’s why it happened.

Despite coach Buzz Williams’ warning, Aggies didn’t value the basketball 

In preparing for Virginia, Williams, who previously was the head coach at Virginia Tech, and thus had plenty of experience against Tony Bennett’s Pack Line defense, warned his players about ball security.

Williams said he told his team that they were used to taking 100-question tests, with each question having a value of one point. He said playing Virginia was like a 25-question test, with the questions having a value of four.

Translation: one turnover was like four.

Williams relayed his message to the media in his postgame press conference.

While leaving the arena, I found myself walking out with Williams. No, I was not stalking. It was pure coincidence.

I asked him how it happened that his team committed 16 turnovers.

Williams responded by saying, “They didn’t listen.”

That Florida trip may have been worthwhile 

Virginia went 1-1 in Fort Myers last week.

Both games were clunkers. The 24-point loss to an OK, but not great Wisconsin team, and then going wire-to-wire against a totally overmatched, undermanned West Virginia team was equally unimpressive.

Those of us that follow this program understand that Virginia head coach Tony Bennett is rarely completely satisfied with his team’s performance, using some part of the game to teach and coach.

After returning from Florida, Bennett had a semester’s worth of teaching to do in a week.

And he obviously did some serious teaching.

Texas A&M came to town built to perfectly dissect every crack and flaw the Cavaliers displayed in South Florida.

Instead, Virginia controlled the game.

Virginia is young and inexperienced. But also full of top-shelf talent.

Bennett will have plenty of teaching opportunities this season. It will be fun to watch his players respond.

For the Cavaliers, it’s the ‘next man up’ mentality 

Georgetown transfer point guard Dante Harris was on crutches in pregame warmups, after rolling an ankle in practice.

True freshman Elijah Gertrude, who was originally planning to redshirt this season, was in uniform in warmups and entered the game, playing eight minutes.

While Gertrude’s stat line was less than pedestrian, playing eight minutes, one rebound and no points, he was steady in giving Reece Beekman rest.

Again, those darn statistics sometimes fail to prove what our eyes see.

Gertrude’s athleticism and movement on the floor was on full display.

At 6’3’’, Gertrude provides Virginia length in the backcourt, and additional offensive firepower. He appears as though he can give Virginia depth and a different look than Harris.

Bennett, in the postgame presser, indicated that the possibility of Gertrude playing had been discussed before the Harris injury.

Having completely recovered from a torn ACL last winter, Gertrude redshirting was a luxury.

Now with Harris out, Gertude gets his chance.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.