What UVA Basketball fans need to remember about Notre Dame
Virginia, then coming off the ugly loss to top-ranked Gonzaga, never trailed in its ACC opener at Notre Dame back on Dec. 30, but, wasn’t as easy as that might make it sound.
The Irish trailed by just one with 9:40 to go, with UVA big man Jay Huff relegated to the bench with his fourth foul.
Sam Hauser couldn’t throw it in the ocean if you spotted him the undertow.
Trey Murphy III was voting present, otherwise not participating in the deliberations.
On the other side, Nate Laszewski was doing his best Carsen Edwards. I had to do a double-take when it was over, and I saw that he was only 8-of-11 from the floor.
Seemed he had a thousand points.
And yet, the ship got righted.
Huff wouldn’t get back out on the floor until the under-four timeout, but the Cavaliers, with Justin McKoy filling in for Huff at the five, outscored Notre Dame 12-7 over the next 6:25 to lead 57-51 when Huff subbed back in with 3:15 to go.
A pair of Prentiss Hubb free throws coming back from the media timeout would cut the lead to four, but Kihei Clark converted an and-one on Virginia’s next possession to push the lead to 60-53, and Hauser answered a Juwan Durham short jumper with a three with 1:40 to go that made it 63-55.
After a defensive stop, Huff threw down a dunk from a nice dish from Clark with a minute left to push the lead back to 10, and that was it.
“In the postgame I talked about weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down. Our young guys, they don’t know what a weeble wobble is, but all of us do. I think we got wobbling a few times. You got to right the ship and get back up,” coach Tony Bennett said afterward.
Durham finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Seemed like he was in the lane whenever he wanted to be.
But aside from Laszewski and Durham, bubkus.
Hubb, who came in averaging a team-best 16.4 points per game, had four, on 1-of-8 shooting.
Dane Goodwin had averaged 16.1 a game on 51.9 percent shooting, 44 percent from three.
Goodwin’s stat line Wednesday night: five points, 2-of-8 from the floor.
Cormac Ryan was a 10.3 points-per-game guy: he got nothing and had to like it (0-of-4 from the floor in 28 minutes).
The two numbers that meant the most: the Irish were 5-of-20 from three (the ‘Zags had gone 10-of-20 in the 98-75 win back on Dec. 26), and Notre Dame was 7-of-13 on shots at the rim (Gonzaga made 21 shots at the rim in 29 attempts).
“Yeah, we definitely made a step in the right direction,” Hauser said. “Gonzaga really exposed us on that end of the floor. That didn’t leave a good taste in our mouth, so we took that personally, and it showed tonight. We played pretty well on the defensive end. Obviously there’s still some things to clean up, but definitely improvement, for sure.”
After getting torched for 39 points in the first half of what turned into a 70-61 win over Wake Forest last week, the Virginia D has started to look like past Bennett units – giving up 71 points in its last three halves, in the Wake game and then the 61-49 win at Boston College this past Saturday.
That’s 71 points on 88 possessions – .806 points per possession – for a team giving up .900 on the season.
Wake and BC combined to shoot 32.9 percent over that stretch.
The secret, Bennett revealed after the Wake game, was an adjustment on how UVA defends ball screens, switching on screens more often, basically, not leaving the bigs exposed to rim-runs, taking away the easy baskets that Gonzaga got in the lane, and the open looks from three that the ‘Zags got all game long, and Wake got for a half, because the back-end defenders are scrambling trying to protect the rim.
You have to expect that Notre Dame, with Laszewski and Durham, will test Virginia on the perimeter and in the lane we saw first time out.
At a glance
- Offense: Notre Dame 111.4 (30), Virginia 110.9 (34)
- Defense: Notre Dame 102.9 (194), Virginia 90.0 (10)
- Tempo: Notre Dame 66.7 (286), Virginia 58.7 (357)
Efficiency data from KenPom.com
Notre Dame (3-7, 0-4 ACC) at #22 Virginia (7-2, 3-0 ACC) at Boston College
ACC Network, 4:30 p.m.
- ESPN BPI: Virginia +11.1, 88.7% win probability
- KenPom: Virginia 67-57, 81% win probability
- BartTorvik: Virginia 66-57, 84% win probability
Story by Chris Graham