Virginia rebounded nicely from a heartbreaking loss at Duke, dominating the Seminoles from start to finish in a 78-66 win. As in the team's previous three ACC wins, the Hoos got off to a quick start and coasted the rest of the game behind an aggressive defense and newfound efficiency on offense. With the win, UVA improves to 4-1 in ACC play and 13-5 overall; Florida State falls to 12-5 (3-2 ACC), with both conference losses at the hands of the Wahoos.
After the Seminoles got started with a Devon Bookert three-pointer, Virginia went on a 15-2 run. From that point on, the UVA lead never moved back into single digits. The Hoos scored an ultra-efficient 1.43 PPP in the first half (and finished at 1.22 PPP) on their way to a 45-26 halftime lead. After an FSU mini-run cut the lead to 11 with 3:30 remaining in the half, the Hoos responded with an 11-3 run of their own.
Throughout, Leonard Hamilton's squad continued to struggle with turnovers. The Noles lost the ball 18 times (30% of possessions), after entering 319th in the nation in TO% at 21.7. Florida State lost the ball in just about every manner possible. They were flustered by double teams and passed the ball easily into UVA's hands, they made bad passes, they let UVA pick their pockets in the lane, and they traveled at halfcourt. The Seminoles have the weapons for a pretty good offense, but not valuing possession of the basketball has held them back all season.
The Hoos controlled most of the second half as well, until an FSU mini-burst at the end gave Wahoo fans at JPJ, home of the nation's most precarious 15 point lead, unnecessary late-game jitters.
That late FSU run, in which they cut the lead from 21 points to 12, led to some hostilities at the end of the game. Official Jamie Luckie torched it when he called a technical on Justin Anderson for hanging on the rim after an alley-oop with 20 seconds to play. While Anderson undoubtedly spent a bit of time on the rim, the call was an unnecessary one, as Justin, who had flown to the hoop, simply hoped to land safely on his feet rather than the back of his head.
Seconds later, jawing between the teams boiled over when London Perrantes and Okaro White began shoving around midcourt; they were both tagged with technicals, while Darion Atkins and Teven Jones were ejected for leaving the bench area. After things settled and during the handshake line, Okaro White looked to make a beeline for Perrantes, taking a swing at him and kicking off another mini-brawl.
While through our orange and blue glasses, FSU looked to really escalate the fight, our friends at Tomahawk Nation purport, "The end of the game was marred by some classless moves from Virginia." To each his own. At the end of the day, nobody likes losing, but the Seminoles are making a habit of getting chippy at JPJ; two years ago, Bernard James was ejected for kicking Joe Harris while he lay on the ground. It's important to note that the always-classy Leonard Hamilton said all the right things in the postgame, and I am sure both teams will address things internally; however, it could get interesting if there's a rematch in the ACC Tournament.
Look for a potential suspension of White for his postgame actions. Despite their ejections, Atkins and Jones will play against UNC.
Putting the late-game extracurriculars aside, everything looked to go right for Virginia on offense. Joe Harris finished with 18 points on 6 of 8 shooting (4-5 from behind the arc), while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points, shooting 5 of 13 but nailing all 5 of his free-throws to raise his FT% to 92% on the season; he also led the team with 6 assists and 4 steals. Mike Tobey had 13 points but shot 4 of 11 and looked overmatched against FSU's bigs. He also must perform better on the glass, where he has just one defensive rebound during the last two games. Justin Anderson added an efficient 10 points, while Akil Mitchell had 9 and Anthony Gill 8. As a team, Virginia shot 49% of the field, including 7 of 11 on three-pointers.
Defensively, UVA made a conscious effort to exploit FSU's turnover issues and succeeded. However, the team looked to back off a bit late in the game, allowing the Seminoles the chance to climb back into the game and finish at a point per possession. The Hoos were also edged on the boards tonight by a poor defensive rebounding team, as Florida State grabbed 72% of UVA's misses, while the Hoos' DReb% was 70%.
This was a big win for Virginia against a very good Florida State team that will finish in the top rung of the ACC. After beating FSU on the road just two weeks ago, the Hoos began a three-game homestand by holding back a team eager to avenge that defeat. However, UVA has no time for celebration, as a similarly desperate UNC team visits JPJ on Monday, another short turnaround. North Carolina started 0-3 in the ACC before getting in the win column by beating BC at home. That game will tip-off at 7 PM and will be televised by ESPN. (As a result of an "announcer switch," Jeff Van Gundy will join Jay Bilas for the call.