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Scott German: Takeaways from Virginia’s crushing buzzer-beating loss to FSU

kihei clark
Kihei Clark looks for a teammate. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Senior Day proved to be memorable for the Virginia Cavaliers, unfortunately painfully memorable. In what amounted to an elimination game, the Cavaliers played with fire one second too many and lost on a last-second buzzer-beater to Florida State, 64-63.

Virginia appeared to be in control for most of the game, but failed to land a fatal blow to a reeling FSU squad that came to Charlottesville down four starters and losers of eight of its last nine games.

Despite a lackluster performance on both ends of the floor from the Cavaliers, an Armaan Franklin jumper gave UVA a 63-61 lead with one second left as the John Paul Jones gathering over 14,000 had a collective sigh of relief – not for long, however.

On the Seminole inbounds, a perfect touchdown pass from Harrison Prieto to Matthew Cleveland set up a turnaround jumper from approximately 35 feet that found nothing but net as time expired. It was Florida State’s second win in a month.

Virginia’s late collapse was devastating

reece beekman
Reece Beekman soars to the hoop for a throwdown. Photo by Dan Grogan.

The Cavaliers were trying to convince the bracketologists to not look at the numbers, but give credence to the eye test and look at their overall body of work. What Virginia did down the stretch in crunch time was almost unwatchable.

UVA had a 10-point lead with 3:26 remaining, and as often happens, some Virginia fans began making their way to the exits. Over a minute later, more fans followed as the lead was still nine.

To cough up a lead in that fashion doesn’t bode well for a team trying to disprove the analytics that say they aren’t NCAA Tournament-worthy.

Inconsistencies that have been the Cavaliers’ identity all season reared their ugly head once again Saturday. The longer FSU was allowed to hang around, the more dangerous they became.

Losing to the Seminoles cleared things up considerably for Virginia

jayden gardner
Jayden Gardner twists and turns for two of his game-high 21 points. Photo by Dan Grogan.

The no-margin-for-error mantra is now over for Virginia. Losing to FSU ends all hope of Virginia convincing anyone that they deserve to be considered for an at-large tourney bid.

The Cavaliers have one path to March Madness, and that is to win four consecutive games in Brooklyn.

For a team that struggles to shoot well in two consecutive halves of basketball, it’s almost impossible to conceive they could do that over four straight games.

The Cavaliers failed to make the big play

Whether or not this game should have come down to last-second drama or not, Virginia, possession after possession, failed to convert a critical play.

Simply put, the Seminoles made the big plays, Virginia, did not.

The game’s final six seconds saw seven points scored.

Cleveland converted practically an uncontested layup with six seconds left, followed by the Franklin’s apparent game-winner with one second left and then Cleveland’s catch-and release prayer as time expired.

Virginia had numerous opportunities to administer last rites to FSU, but just could not come up with that elusive basket or stop when needed.

Virginia doomed again by shooting woes

armaan franklin
Armaan Franklin swished a 15-footer with 1.0 seconds left, an apparent game-winner that was not to be. Photo by Dan Grogan.

You might win some games a few times on grit and determination alone, but the game is designed to reward those who can consistently put the ball through the basket. This entire season, Virginia has struggled to do that, and Saturday was no exception, and it proved costly for UVA.

After making 13-of-24 from the floor in the first half, the Cavaliers were a woeful 9-of-32 in the second half.

Franklin drilled a three-pointer with 15:29 remaining in the game to give Virginia an eight-point, 44-36 lead. At that point in the game, the Cavaliers were shooting an even 50 percent from the floor (17-of-34).

But as it has often happened this season, the lid closed on the basket for the ‘Hoos.

Virginia missed 12 of its next 13 shots over an eight-minute stretch, yet still somehow led by seven, 51-44, with 5:38 left.

Convert on just one of those possessions, and FSU would not have been the beneficiary of a miracle.

Great defense alone can’t mask horrific shooting forever.

Story by Scott German

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