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UVA defense struggles in Davidson win

uva basketballDavidson came in to Saturday averaging 83.1 points and 13.2 made threes per game, so Virginia holding the Wildcats to 60 points and 8-of-26 shooting from long range is a victory for the Pack-Line.

But, yeah, coach Tony Bennett still wasn’t all that happy with the D after the 20-point win.

Asked by a reporter after the game if his team made any defensive improvements in-game, Bennett was blunt.

“Not defensively,” he said.

The Wildcats shot 48 percent overall, largely because they were able to get into the lane consistently, scoring 32 points in the paint, and converting on 16 of their 18 shot attempts at the rim – layups and dunks.

The way Davidson plays, you’re so focused on how all five guys on the floor can shoot threes that you tend to overplay the perimeter, leaving the lane open for backdoor cuts, which the Wildcats ran with impunity.

“They run some of the best off-ball screens, we call them stagger screens, where they go through the gate or back-cut you,” Bennett said. “All five guys are capable of shooting the three, you saw that with their five-man, (Peyton) Aldridge. They just put a lot of pressure on you, so you have to be so alert and we were talking about being continuous, fighting through screens, helping your partner and then getting back.”

Aldridge, who came in averaging 21.7 points per game, finished with 20 points, shooting 7-for-15 from the field, 3-of-7 from three, and was an obvious matchup problem for Virginia all game long. Bennett tried Jack Salt on him early, then gave Mamadi Diakite a chance, and even went with redshirt freshman Jay Huff for a brief two-minute stretch in the first half.

Virginia did a solid job defending Jon Axel Gudmundsson (who had 11 points, after averaging 17.1 point a game coming in) and Kellan Grady (who had just three points, after averaging 15.4 points a game coming in).

Despite the hot shooting, Davidson ended up scoring just .938 points per possession for the game, down a good bit from their 1.110 points per possession total for the season, in part because the Wildcats committed 13 turnovers, 3.4 more than their season average.

UVA had a 15-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

And the end result was positive, but it was largely because the offense – which scored 1.25 points per possession, shooting 50 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from three-point range, carried the day.

Bennett knows that Virginia isn’t going to win a lot of ACC games with opponents going 16-of-18 on layups and dunks.

“That score is not indicative of how much of a challenge [Davidson is], because they can score. For the most part we held them, [though]. I am looking forward to watching the tape on this one to see if they just missed open shots with guys open a lot or if we, for the most part, made them earn it,” Bennett said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press