Putting it bluntly: #13 Virginia just plain stinks

virginia basketballVirginia coach Tony Bennett tried yet another starting lineup at Florida State Sunday night, his fifth in five ACC games.

This one didn’t work, either.

Bennett went with Devon Hall at guard and Jack Salt at center to start the game and the second half, ostensibly to get more defense on the floor.

What he got instead was a little bit of defense and a whole lot of uneven offensive effort to start both halves.

Which is to say, whatever bump Bennett might have expected with the different lineup, the score was 4-4 at the first media timeout in the first half, and Florida State opened the second half on a 9-2 run.

Salt had four points in nine minutes, but despite being on the floor just those nine minutes, he somehow put up a plus-minus rating of -9.

Hall, in 26 minutes, had a +2 rating, scoring six points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field.

That +2, incidentally, was tied for the team’s best on the night, with power forward Isaiah Wilkins, who had four points and one rebound in 20 minutes off the bench.

The effort to get a defensive head start instead ensured that UVA would never get an offensive rhythm going. Malcolm Brogdon was an atrocious 4-of-17 from the field. London Perrantes had a team-high 19 points, but was just 4-of-13 from the field, and had four turnovers.

Anthony Gill ended up with 13 points, but inside of eight minutes to go his stat line had him at four points and two rebounds, as he sat for long stretches in foul trouble.

Gill had nine in the final eight, Perrantes had 14, and none of it mattered, because Florida State started the second half hitting 10 of 13 from the field to lead by as many as eight, after trailing by eight in the latter stages of the first half.

So much for the lineups aimed at getting the D to serve as the anchor.

A team that entered the game a modest 63rd in the nation in offensive efficiency scored 1.333 points per possession in the final 20 minutes to seize control.

Virginia, for its part, scored an inept .939 points per possession for the game against a defense that was torched by North Carolina for 102 in Tallahassee 13 days ago.

Remember that UVA team that was 12-1 with double-digit wins over West Virginia, Villanova and Notre Dame? Vaguely, right?

Don’t bother to stop by for a visit, because they don’t live here anymore.

It’s past time for Bennett to push the panic button, which to his credit he’s been trying to get to work for the past 10 days, to no avail.

He knew before the rest of us did, that the plain truth is that, right now, his team just plain stinks.

There’s time to get it turned around, sure, whatever, but that time is getting short.

Virginia has a quick turnaround before playing Clemson at home Tuesday night, and then a home game Saturday with an improving Syracuse team on a day that is likely to see a sharply reduced homecourt advantage with a foot of snow in the forecast for Thursday into Friday.

Lose these next two, even split them, and a team that can’t buy a win on the road is staring down needing a late-season run to even qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

That is, bluntly, how mediocre Virginia basketball looks right now.

This is about as close as you can be to it being season on the brink for a team still ranked in the Top 10 of KenPom.com as can be imagined.

– Column by Chris Graham


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