Zzzzz … UVa. sleeps through another one

Cavs have hit the wall in back-to-back blowout losses

Column by Chris Graham

Yeah, I’m Master of the Obvious for pointing this out, I know, but somebody’s gotta say it.

Three games in five nights, two on the road, all against teams trying to build their resumes for NCAA Tournament bids. Yeah, you’re going to have a hard time facing those odds.

“I do not think we were fatigued. Our minds were fatigued,” said junior forward Mike Scott, echoing his teammates and coach after the Cavs went down to their fourth straight loss, 69-50 on Wednesday night at home against Florida State.

The snowstorm that moved UVa.’s game at Maryland from last week to Monday night has to be part of the equation as to explaining the recent struggles. You can’t say that the ‘Hoos would have be guaranteed to have won the Maryland and FSU games if only they’d had fresh legs, but back-to-back 19-point losses are out of character for this group, which as recently as last week appeared to be a solid NCAA Tournament team.

The nature of the losses is concerning. Monday’s loss at Maryland saw Virginia give up 52 first-half points to the Terps two nights after the Cavs limit high-scoring Virginia Tech to 61 points in a last-minute loss. Wednesday had UVa. struggle so mightily on the offensive end that they had to fight into garbage time to break 50.

“The mental toughness was lacking today. Fatigue maybe was there, but the mental toughness was not there. Take your pick. Tonight it was tough,” Coach Tony Bennett said afterward.

Only an 8-0 flare midway through the first half that cut a 10-point ‘Noles lead briefly to two could get the home crowd into what was otherwise a snoozer. Florida State got the game into double digits early in the second half and put the game on cruise control from there.

“We have to stay together. In rough times it is easy for a team to fall apart, but we have to make sure everyone sticks together to fix the problems we have,” senior center Jerome Meyinsse said.

Here’s some advice – get some rest.

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Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

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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