The Cavaliers played one of their sloppiest second halves of the season, but hung on to claim a 61-60 win on the road over the N.C. State Wolfpack. A game of runs between the two teams, State came within one in the final 39.3 seconds, causing widespread panic across Wahoo Nation.
Sammy Zeglinski, who finally had a hot night from three-point land, hitting his first four straight from well beyond the arc, held the ball for what would be Virginia's final shot. With just over seven seconds to go, Zeglinski opted to take the shot himself rather than pass it to the frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, Mike Scott.
I liked the shot from Zeglinski, despite what initial reaction was. Scott had multiple state players on him, while Zeglinski had at least a 4-foot radius around him to shoot. The ball rimmed out, giving the Wolfpack the final shot with just seven seconds to play.
As @cavalierinsider tweeted, "Some teams win games on last-second shots. Appropriate that #UVa wins with last-second defense."
Still, Virginia got dominated on the boards tonight, getting outrebounded by the Wolfpack 42 to 25, led by Richard Howell's career high 18 rebounds. For the Wolfpack, 16 of those were on the offensive end.
Mike Scott finished with a team high 18 points and tied Joe Harris with a team-high five rebounds. Zeglinski and Harris had 12 points apiece. Jontel Evans finished with five points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and a surprising four turnovers.
Speaking of Bub Evans, he is good at spotting the open lane, but he seems to have two problems. The first is that he's not very good at clock management. Sometimes, even with a little bit of space in the lane, you've got to pass on it if there's still 25 seconds left on the shot clock and your coach just called a time out to remind you all to slow it down. The second is that, while he's got good control of the ball, he's simply not a very good shooter, and this unfortunately includes both layups and free throws (60% from the line). Instead, perhaps he should be driving into the open lane and kicking it back to one of Virginia's many capable three-point shooters.
This is a great win for Virginia, as NC State (55) is one of the highest RPI teams the Cavs have played this season and could go on to be a Tournament team. Virginia will hopefully use this as momentum going into what could be a tough stretch, against Clemson, at Florida State, against Wake and at North Carolina. Tipoff for Tuesday's matchup against Clemson, Virginia's third game in six days, is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.