Pick your poison: #5 Virginia can beat you in the paint, beyond the arc

brogdon virginia basketballWhen Notre Dame played man, Virginia fed Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey in the post. When the Irish played zone, Malcolm Brogdon got easy looks from three.

Mike Brey: pick your poison.

“Let’s try zone because they are crushing us in the paint. Let’s just see if they make some challenged jump shots. Then my guys are looking at me when Brogdon bangs down two threes to start the half and the whole thing changes. They are a confident group and maturity is such a key for them. It’s been a hallmark of their program,” Brey said after the fifth-ranked Cavs’ 77-66 win on Saturday.

Notre Dame (9-4) shot 48.2 percent from the floor and scored 42 points in the final 20 minutes, and still could never get closer than 10 after going into the break down 12.

After an early Irish bucket cut the deficit to 10, Brogdon hit an open three to push the margin back to 13. He repeated that feat the next trip down, then found London Perrantes in the left corner to extend the lead to 17.

Notre Dame made three of its first five shots from the field to open the second half, and went into the hole another five points in the process.

“They are really good. Today was kind of men among boys. I thought anytime we tried to make a run and get some hope, they squelched it like a veteran mature group. If you told me we’d shoot 48 percent against them, I would have thought the game would have been better,” Brey said,

The Virginia bigs – Gill, Mike Tobey and Isaiah Wilkins – were a combined 13-for-22 (59.1 percent) from the floor. Brogdon was 9-of-14 from the field, 7-of-8 in the second half.

Brogdon was cognizant of the fact that he hadn’t scored from inside the three-point arc the past two games, shooting a combined 6-of-26 in UVA wins over Cal and Oakland, all six makes coming from long-range.

He said he made it a point to get into the lane.

“I think me and AG, especially being the main scorers on our team, we try to come out aggressive,” Brogdon said. “We know if we can get it going and attract a lot of attention, then our teammates can really get going if we start dishing to them and getting other people involved. So it’s always a mindset to look for your shot, but if it’s not falling keep shooting, and get other people involved and just stay aggressive.”

Brogdon finished with 24 points, 20 coming in the second half.

Gill had 20 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor, while grabbing six rebounds. Gill also played a key role in helping shut down Notre Dame big man Zach Auguste, a glaring non-factor with just one point, two rebounds and three turnovers in 22 minutes.

The 6’10” senior had been averaging 14.3 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game on 55.9 percent shooting coming in.

“We really just wanted to see if he could finish over top of us. The first half we really started off aggressive on the post trap, and then he was doing a really good job of throwing it out of that, and then Coach Bennett made a decision to just choke it and see what happens from there, and our job was to stay big and make him finish over top of us,” Gill said.

With Auguste out of his element, the Irish were reduced to a jump-shooting team. The shots fell late, too little, too late, but by that point the outcome was already decided.

“It’s one of those where you look and you go, I’m glad it only counts as one loss in league play, because we need to go back and regroup and see if we can win one on Thursday,” Brey said.

– Story by Chris Graham

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
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