It was a tightly fought battle between Virginia and Stanford in Cancun last night, but at the end of the day, the Cavs just didn't have enough offensive power to pull through the victory. The Cardinal outlasted the Hoos 52-57 in front of a crowd of 200 (most of whom were Kentucky fans). Stanford now leads the series 6-1, winning the last five.
In what seems to be becoming a trend among Virginia sports programs, the defense held strong while the offense was lackluster at best. It's unclear whether Stanford's 38.9% shooting was a product of Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett's pack-line defense or simply a product of an unimpressive Stanford squad. Unfortunately, shooting 75% from beyond the arc in the first half kept Stanford in the game and, ultimately, on top.
Virginia never led by more than two, while Stanford's largest lead of the night was eight. With 4:52 remaining, Virginia was up by one after two smooth free throws by Mustapha Farrakhan, and for a moment, Wahoo Nation thought this was about to happen. Unfortunately, this was met with a 9-0 run by Stanford with only 2:46 remaining. Things began looking bleak.
"That's when your defense has to be at its strongest," Bennett said in response to the Cardinal's run consisting of three lay-ups and an uncontested 3-pointer. "Unacceptable."
Jeff Jones led the Virginia offense, scoring a team high of 17 points with Sylven Landesberg closely following with 16. Twelve of Jones's points came off threes, as he was the only one on the Virginia squad able to find the bottom of the net from beyond the arc. Virginia went 4-18 (22%) from the three, which contributed to 'Hoos' shooting woes of a mere 38% on the night.
Mike Scott ran into foul trouble early, which ultimately hurt Virginia's already-lacking inside presence. Freshman Tristan Spurlock did not make it onto the court at all.
"Mike Scott getting in foul trouble hurt us and there were so many breakdowns," Bennett said. "We couldn’t overcome the breakdowns. We have to do it together. We don’t have enough individual talent to just get it done and we didn’t."
Virginia plays Cleveland State tonight for the third place spot of the Cancun Challenge. Cleveland St. made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, but was routed just last night by Kentucky, 73-49. The two teams have never met.
"I almost feel like an NBA team [having] as many games as we are playing with not a lot of rest," Bennett said. "So we will hopefully be energized."