Statement game: UVA puts college basketball on notice

uva basketballTop-ranked Kentucky put up a 24-0 run and led 41-7 at the half in beating UCLA 83-44 on Saturday. On Sunday, #6 UVA came out of the gate against Harvard up 30-4, led 39-8 at the break and won 76-27.

Hoops Nation, you have been warned.

Granted, Harvard was coming into Sunday’s game after a 13-day layoff for exams. Probably not the best scheduling to come back from finals on the road at #6. A tune-up may have been in order, but that’s another issue for another day.

This is a pretty good Harvard basketball team, to say the least. The Crimson were ranked in the preseason AP Top 25, and came in on a six-game winning streak and 7-1 record.

This one should’ve been a challenge, but it never was.

Harvard made one less shot from the field in the first half than the halftime entertainment, Quick Change. The Crimson was 1-of-20 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, and finished 8-of-50 (16 percent).

And it’s not like Harvard fell into the trap that many Virginia opponents do in the form of jacking up an endless series of threes. Harvard put up just 11 threes on the day.

They just couldn’t buy a bucket, and one other number from the stat sheet might tell you why. The Crimson had just one assist in 40 minutes. One.

You’re not going to beat any defense, but much less the Pack-Line, with one-on-one play.

For the attention that the 27 part of the final score will get, deservedly, Virginia did score 76, the fourth straight time the Cavs have scored 70+, and on Sunday shot 59.8 percent from the field (31-of-52) and 54.5 percent from three (6-of-11).

The ‘Hoos had 21 assists on their 31 made baskets, also telling in the sense of how the offense was executing.

This was as thorough an effort against a quality opponent as you will see out of any team. The setup was classic trap game: the last game before Christmas and a nine-day break, against a team that would love to pull off the upset to enhance its NCAA resume, mainly for seeding purposes, since Harvard is as close to a lock to win the Ivy as there can be.

There was no doubt as the outcome by the second media timeout in the first half. That’s how championship teams handle trap games against quality opponents.

– Column by Chris Graham

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