What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Boston College

boston collegeBoston College already had your attention after the Eagles, down its two best players, knocked off Virginia in Chestnut Hill back in January.

That one wasn’t a fluke. BC (13-13, 7-8 ACC) has already posted a season sweep of Virginia Tech, took Duke into the final two minutes and just notched a win on Sunday night against NCAA Tournament aspirant N.C. State.

And: they have those two guys that missed the first game in Chestnut Hill back.

Getting to know: Boston College

Derryck Thornton (13.1 ppg, 38.3% FG, 23.9% 3FG) isn’t the most efficient point guard out there. The senior is a high-volume shooter who doesn’t shoot it well and a playmaker who barely averages more assists (3.6) than turnovers (3.4).

But when he’s good, he’s good – as he was in the win over the Wolfpack, in which he put up 22 with five assists and just two turnovers in 39 minutes.

Thornton will get into the paint – 33.1 percent of his shot attempts have been at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com – and get to the line.

The 22-point effort in the win over State had him going 11-of-11 at the stripe.

His backcourt mate is 6’3” freshman Jay Heath (12.6 ppg, 42.1% FG, 37.8% 3FG), who you may remember scoring 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the Eagles’ win over UVA back on Jan. 7.

The other guy who missed that game, 6’11” senior Nik Popovic (10.5 ppg, 5.2 rebs/g, 45.4% FG, 31.4% 3FG) is really just getting his legs back under him after missing nine games with a back injury.

Popovic had 14 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes in BC’s win over N.C. State on Sunday. The floor time was a high for the senior since his return.

The Hamilton brothers – Jairus (9.7 ppg, 42.1% FG, 27.7% 3FG) and Jared (8.1 ppg, 43.8% FG, 32.1% 3FG) – had impact games in the win over UVA. Jared, a 6’4” senior, had 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 31 minutes off the bench; Jairus, a 6’8” sophomore, had 10 points and seven rebounds and was also 5-of-8 from the floor in 34 minutes.

You probably also remember 6’8” junior Steffon Mitchell (7.2 ppg, 8.4 rebs/g, 44.0% FG, 26.8% 3FG), who had 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the win in Chestnut Hill.

Three other rotation guys to watch out for – 6’7” freshman C.J. Felder (5.8 ppg, 4.0 rebs/g, 41.1% FG, 16.1% 3FG), 6’5” freshman Julian Rishwain (3.6 ppg, 31.1% FG, 32.3% 3FG) and 6’7” freshman Kamari Williams (2.1 ppg, 36.8% FG, 30.4% 3FG).

Felder (5 points, 2-of-11 FG, 29 minutes) and Rishwain (2 pts, 1-of-5 shooting, 20 minutes) both started in the win on Jan. 7.

How Virginia matches up

The first key will be avoiding dumb fouls. Mamadi Diakite (13.7 ppg, 6.5 rebs/g, 47.2% FG, 35.4% 3FG) and Jay Huff (8.0 ppg, 6.2 rebs/g, 57.4% FG, 31.4% 3FG) each had two fouls before the first media timeout, and ended up playing a combined 42 minutes because of the early (and sustained) foul trouble.

Tony Bennett went with a four-guard lineup around Diakite for that one, but that was probably a response to Popovic being out for the game.

Mitchell and Popovic will each get 25+ minutes at the four and five for Jim Christian, so you can expect Bennett to counter with a similar mix of Diakite and Huff in the post.

A key matchup will be 5’9” sophomore point guard Kihei Clark (10.3 ppg, 6.1 assists/g, 36.2% FG, 32.9% 3FG) on Thornton, who as was mentioned is adept at getting to the line.

Clark (averaging an otherworldly 37.5 minutes per game this season) needs to be on the floor for Virginia, with the absence of options backing him up.

With all the focus in this breakdown on how BC played the first game between the two without Thornton and Popovic, it might be fair to note that the game was also pre-WoldetensGuy.

Tomas Woldetensae (6.9 ppg, 37.5% FG, 38.6% 3FG) only got eight minutes in the loss, and didn’t score.

The 6’5” junior made six or more threes three times in his last six, including going 6-of-10, and hitting the game-winner with eight-tenths of a second left, in the 64-62 win at North Carolina on Saturday night.

Details

Boston College at Virginia, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
KenPom.com: 60-49 Virginia (84% win probability)
ESPN BPI: Virginia +13.6 (91.6% win probability)

Story by Chris Graham


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