Scott German: That looked like Virginia Basketball
OK, now this is the Virginia Cavaliers I’m used to seeing.
You know, the team that plays so darn hard that the opponent just wants to quit and go home.
The team that just sucks the energy from you at some juncture in the game, typically referred to around these parts as a Cavalanche.
Yes, that’s the team, and we did have a Cavalanche here Saturday afternoon in John Paul Jones Arena that propelled the Cavaliers to a 73-66 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers.
No. 14 Virginia scored 16 unanswered points over a three and a half minute stretch in the second half that flipped a tie game into a relatively stressless ACC win for the Cavaliers.
During the 16-0 run, Virginia connected on four three-pointers in four attempts; in fact the Cavaliers went over eight minutes failing to miss a shot as the lead expanded to as much as 17.
The Wahoos were effective on both ends of the floor. Sam Hauser and Jay Huff were practically perfect for the afternoon. Hauser finished with 23 points, Huff 13. The duo were 13-of-15 from the floor, including 6-of-8 from behind the arc.
Virginia needed the second half surge to overcome a slow start.
Pitt scored the game’s first seven points before Virginia slowly cut into the deficit. A mini-Cavalanche came in the opening half’s last two minutes as the Cavaliers closed on an 8-1 to take a 30-27 lead at the break.
An encouraging sign for Virginia was the defensive effort from Hauser. Along with shouldering a significant of scoring responsibility, Hauser has often squared off against the opponent’s best scorer.
Today, for Hauser that was the situation as he was routinely guarding Justin Champagnie, who is a leading contender for ACC Player of the Year .
Hauser held Champagnie in check over long periods in the game. Hauser drew the praise of Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who he said he thought Hauser “was really good being a wall on wheels.”
In many ways this afternoon’s game may have given opposing ACC teams even more to be concerned about when playing Virginia.
Virginia has always been a team that makes no apologies when pace-of-play is concerned, being one of the slowest-paced teams in Division 1, just grinding down most teams.
Today Virginia gave the Panthers a different twist. They were extremely effective scoring 73 points on just 60 possessions.
After UVA had built the 17-point lead, Pitt rallied, briefly, pulling to within nine. But the explosive Virginia offense responded when Tomas Woldetensae drained threes on consecutive possessions to extend the lead back to 15.
Virginia, Saturday afternoon, was a two-headed monster on both ends of the floor. And that is enough to give opposing teams nightmares.
Story by Scott German