The Virginia Cavaliers continued rolling today with a monstrous 31 point victory on the road over the NC State Wolfpack, bringing the Wahoos to 3-0 (and keeping them tied for first) in the ACC. To the delight of the Cavalier faithful, Virginia looked even more smooth than they did in their 74-51 drubbing of Wake forest on Wednesday.
Virginia jumped out to yet another early lead on solid play by London Perrantes and Mike Tobey, who had six points each in the opening 21-4 run against the Wolfpack. They never looked back as they stormed out to a 48-25 halftime lead. Yes, that says 48.
Each of the Virginia starters had at least eight points in what was an incredibly balanced affair on both ends of the court. The Cavalier defense was utterly stifling, led by Joe Harris who just smothered the ACC's leading scorer, T.J. Warren. Warren finished the game with 1-9 shooting and only four points. For a frame of reference, he had been averaging 23.4 points coming into today's matchup.
On the offensive end of the court, Harris shone with 16 points on 3-7 shooting from the floor, 2-4 from three point land, and making a perfect 6-6 free throws (HUZZAH!). Oh, and this was all in 20 minutes due to being in foul trouble in the second half.
Perrantes had another stellar outing with eight points, five assists, two steals, and zero turnovers in 19 minutes. I think this sums it up the best way possible:
WE HAVE 3.5 MORE YEARS OF LONDON PERRANTES!!!— EmbraceThePace (@EmbracePaceUVA) January 11, 2014
Another solid sign for Virginia going forward was the continued resurgence of Akil Mitchell. Mitchell, who had seemed non-existent early in the season for the Cavaliers, snagged 12 rebounds and contributed eight points along with a block and a steal. His highlight of the game, however, was the Sports Center Top 10 worthy windmill dunk following his steal to give Virginia a 48-23 lead with 1:14 left in the first half.
Check it out for yourself here.
Virginia's season turnaround can be attributed to many factors. A new offensive scheme. The embarrassing blowout loss to Tennessee. Players becoming more accustomed to their roles. All have played a part.
However, a huge factor in the past few games has been the leadership of fourth years Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, evident both on and off the court. Coach Bennett praised their leadership after the win, and it is nice to see the two of them returning to their All-ACC skills of last year. Harris and Mitchell have stepped up into their roles as leaders, knowing their experience will help the younger players as the season progresses.
Next up, the Cavaliers travel just down the (tobacco) road as they face the Duke Blue Devils on "Big" Monday on ESPN at 7:00 PM. Duke lost on the road today at Clemson, so they will certainly be chomping at the bit to get back into the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor.
Something to keep in mind as you wait for Monday...
Not too shabby, Hoos. Keep it up.