Tigers rally, hold off Cavs, 58-56
A 14-2 run gave Virginia a 56-52 lead and had the Cavs in the driver’s seat. And then they couldn’t finish the deal.
“I’m obviously disappointed, particularly with our inability to play a game from start to finish that we prepared to play,” said UVa. coach Dave Leitao, whose Cavs could not score in the final 2:30 en route to a disappointing 58-56 loss to Auburn in front of 11,070 at the John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday.
It was the second straight home loss for Virginia (4-4) and the team’s third loss in its last four. That it didn’t come in the form of a blowout was a surprise to those who tuned out when Auburn took a 45-30 lead midway through the second after a 10:30 stretch in which the ‘Hoos went ohfer from the field. At which point Assane Sene, a freshman who only scored two points, took over the game with his defense. Sene blocked four Auburn shots and altered several others to key the extended Virginia run that got the Cavaliers back into the game.
“He was able to be a presence in the second half with his energy, his length and his rebounding. There are other guys around him that we need to have the same kind of energy and passion from,” Leitao said.
Sene pulled down nine rebounds for UVa., which was outrebounded for the first time this season, 44-30, a stat line that included a rather remarkable two, count ’em, two offensive rebounds for the Cavs.
Virginia shot 36.7 percent from the floor for the game, but was 13-of-25 for 52 percent in the second half after a woeful first half that saw the team make just five of its 24 attempts from the field en route to a 32-21 halftime deficit.
Freshman Sylven Landesberg led all scorers with 22 points, his fifth 20-point-plus game of the young season. Korvotney Barber led three Tigers in double figures with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
– Story by Chris Graham