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‘You never want your coach to call you soft’: Virginia responds to Bennett in win at State

tony bennett uva nc state
Virginia coach Tony Bennett. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett coined a new word in describing his team after its 65-51 loss at Virginia Tech last weekend: “finessey.”

It’s OK, because it was accurate.

Webster’s, at the end of the year, will no doubt add it to the lexicon.

The Cavaliers got to the line twice, for four attempts – once, for two attempts, in garbage time.

You get four free throws when you settle.

N.C. State, its on-ball pressure, wanted to make Virginia “finessey” again Wednesday night.

The Pack forced 11 turnovers in 58 possessions, but UVA was better with the ball in the final 20 minutes, turning it over just four times.

Also noticeable: 22 by God free-throw attempts.

“The message, I talked about trying not to yield. I thought we yielded a bit too much and at key times against Virginia Tech and I didn’t sense that tonight,” coach Tony Bennett said after his team’s 64-57 win.

The charity tosses, the better ball-handling down the stretch – the rebounding.

OK, State finished with 11 offensive boards, but had just four in the second half – and even with all the offensive boards, the Pack finished with exactly two (!) second-chance points.

Should also be noted: State was 12-of-25 on shots at the rim.

Contest much, ‘Hoos?

“I thought we made it hard for them,” Bennett said. “We made some plays and got to the free throw line through drives, and even the threes we missed, for the most part, were good shots.

“They showed some, the idea of not yielding. I kept saying that the timeout. Don’t yield, don’t yield. And I was glad to see that we hung tough and came away with a good road victory.”

The guys, apparently, read their press clippings.

Trey Murphy III, who had 18 points, noted after the game that he had taken Bennett’s words about playing soft in the loss to Tech personally.

“I was like, I’m going make sure that he can’t, I can’t give him a reason to call me soft,” Murphy said. “We all just took it personal, and losing to Virginia Tech, that hurts a lot. We just learned, it humbled us a little bit, because we were on a roll, and we just knew we had to come out and really fight this game.”

Sam Hauser, who also had 18 points in the win, echoed Murphy.

“I think we learned from that game,” Hauser said, referencing the loss to Tech. “We were kind of in the same position, up eight or nine points with about 10 minutes to go. They had their run, and instead of folding and giving in, we responded with our own run, and that was the difference.”

Hauser was referencing the 10-0 State run that put the Pack up a point with 6:53 left.

Virginia scored on 10 of its last 11 possessions down the stretch, after Tech had held the ‘Hoos to four points in the final eight-plus in the loss down in Southwest Virginia.

“You never want your coach to call you soft, so you take that pretty personally,” Hauser said. “We responded pretty well tonight. We were physical. Obviously, some things to clean up and work on still, but we were physical, we were tough-minded, and that’s why we came out on top tonight.”

Story by Chris Graham

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