Scott German: Offense keys Virginia to 71-58 ACC win over Miami
Virginia, a team that identifies itself primarily with a stingy defense, flipped the script by utilizing a high-octane offense to blow past Miami 71-58 in an energetic John Paul Jones Arena.
Oh, and don’t worry, the offensive barrage by Virginia didn’t come at the expense of its usual defensive effort.
Miami, which earlier this season had surged to the top of the Atlantic Coast standings, dropped its second straight game, and is learning that reaching the top of the standings and staying there don’t always go together.
The Hurricanes (16-7,8-4 ACC) dropped its fifth in a row against Virginia (14-9, 8-5 ACC). Miami is just 3-10 against the Cavaliers under head coach Jim Larranaga.
The entire season, Virginia has been banging on the door of a complete performance; Saturday the ‘Hoos smashed that door down
Armaan Franklin, the highly touted transfer from Indiana, scored 22 points as UVA built a 21-point lead over the Hurricanes late in the contest.
When the final buzzer sounded, it was without a doubt the Cavaliers most impressive 40 minutes of basketball this season – or at least the most impressive 35 minutes.
In the game’s first five minutes, Virginia turned the ball over four times as Miami jumped to a quick 10-7 lead. The Hurricanes could have built an even greater lead, but missed its first 10 three-point shots of the game.
Then like a light switch, the Virginia offense began to click, led by Franklin, who has had to transform from his days as a long-range shooter for the Hoosiers to a mid-range shooter for the ‘Hoos.
Franklin knocked down over 42 percent last season from behind the arc at Indiana, but his long-distance shooting prowess didn’t travel well to Charlottesville as his percentage has dipped to just over 26 percent.
So by necessity, Franklin has been forced to develop a consistent mid-range shot, which he has slowly done.
On Saturday against Miami, the long-distance shooting returned for Franklin as well. In the first half, Franklin went on a 7-0 run on just about every conceivable manner – a nice slashing layup, a deep corner three and a mid-range jumper off a screen that erased the early deficit and put Virginia ahead for good.
Franklin’s biggest knock-down of the night came as the final seconds of first half action ticked off the JPJ scoreboard.
After a Virginia stop on defense, Reece Beekman, who finished the game with 10 assists, moved the ball briskly down the court. Beekman found an open Franklin, who nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to push the Cavalier advantage to 35-26 at the break.
For the contest, Franklin finished with a sparkling statline: 22 points, four assists, three rebounds and four steals.
The defense, not to be upstaged by the newfound offense, also gave Miami problems. Unable to solve the defensive pressure of Virginia, the Hurricanes offense all too often was reduced to isolation one-on-one moves.
Meanwhile, the Virginia offense ran like a Ferrari, much different than the early season offense that more resembled a bicycle with two flat tires.
Every time Miami would seemingly be making a run, Virginia was able to counter with a basket to stop the momentum. The Cavaliers, for the second game in a row, avoided a prolonged scoring drought.
For the game Virginia made some critical defensive stops and finished with 11 steals.
Cavaliers on a roll, finally
The win resulted in Virginia’s first back-to-back Ws since early January. The previous nine games before tonight, the Cavaliers simply were swapping between wins and losses in consecutive contests.
Virginia backcourt shines
Beekman was within a point of recording a double-double for the Cavaliers, finishing with nine points and 10 assists. Kihei Clark had 11 points and added three assists.
Virginia, a shooting machine?
It hasn’t happened often this year, but tonight the Cavaliers bagged this win with long-range accuracy. For the game Virginia was 8-of-15 from behind the arc and a sizzling 30-of-50 from the floor.
From tough to tougher
The Cavaliers go from the frying pan to the fire as they travel to No. 9 Duke on Monday at 7 p.m. It’s the Cavaliers’ most challenging matchup of the season to date. Duke destroyed North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 87-67, later on Saturday.
Story by Scott German