UVA overcomes exam break rust in win over tough Cleveland State squad

uva basketballSixth-ranked UVA missed 11 of its first 17 shots from the field and had just 16 points up on the scoreboard 14 minutes in. The defense apparently didn’t take an exam break.

“Our defense did a great job holding them to a low score early, and then our shots started to fall,” said Justin Anderson after Virginia’s 70-54 win over Cleveland State Thursday night.

The Cavs (10-0) led 16-4 after the long stretch of offensive inefficiency because the Pack Line defense forced the Vikings into a 2-for-17 start from the field.

Virginia was also able to get to the free-throw line with repeated forays into the lane and at the rim in the first half. Despite an 8-for-20 performance from the field in the first 20 minutes, the ‘Hoos led 31-18 on the strength of 15-for-19 shooting from the foul line.

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters wasn’t happy about what he seemed to feel was a bit of help from the officials in Virginia’s favor in that first half.

“They were up 13, they made 15 free throws, and it was all based on that. I ain’t going to say it was the right calls made, I don’t know all that stuff. All I know is that they were getting to the line and we were not. It’s hard to beat a team when you don’t get to the line,” Waters said.

But you don’t get to the line if you don’t get into the lane, and Cleveland State put up 14 three-point attempts among its 26 shots from the field in the first half, because that’s all the Vikings could get against the Pack-Line.

The second half was a different story – at least the opening stretch. Cleveland State hit 10 of its first 16 from the field in the final 20 minutes, and scored 36 in the half, at a level of efficiency that is going to have the Cavs studying the game tape looking for what they can do to shore things up for Harvard, the opponent on Sunday afternoon.

“They are a very good ball club,” UVA coach Tony Bennett said of the Crimson (7-1), a preseason Top 25 team that will be coming in off its own long exam break, its last game being a 70-56 win over Boston U. on Dec. 8.

“They know how to play,” Bennett said. “I will watch more film as we get going. They have lost one and won the rest. Again, they are another well-coached team that has really established itself. That program is really cooking, and we will have to be ready to go.”

– Column by Chris Graham

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
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