On March 5, 2011, Maryland football coach Randy Edsall took the court at the Comcast Center at halftime of the matchup between UVA and Maryland and boasted, "Here at Maryland, we don't lose to Virginia!" The Terps fell in that game, 74-60, and all they've done is lose to Virginia since. Tonight, UVA notched a 61-53 win at JPJ, their 8th straight this season, and the 6th in a row against Maryland, who made their last trip to Charlottesville before they flee to the Big Ten.
As in UVA's last win, against Georgia Tech, the Hoos took some time to get going. For the second game in a row, the Hoos trailed by a point at halftime and were struggling to get much going against an energetic Terp defense. And once again, with 10 minutes remaining, the Hoos were sparked, this time by Justin Anderson and Joe Harris.
Clinging to a 37-35 lead, Malcolm Brogdon's shot was blocked, and Maryland started a fast break, for what looked like easy points. But Justin Anderson did what Justin Anderson does best, chasing Roddy Peters down from behind and unleashing a huge block. The Hoos brought the ball upcourt, Joe Harris nailed an open three, and the team was off to the races. The block was part of a 9-0 run that gave the team a nine point lead, and allowed Tony Bennett's squad to control the game for the first time all night. Here it is (Sllooowww mottionnnn video is up on VirginiaSportsTV as well, if you're into that) :
The win was not without some late jitters. Maryland made a late burst to cut the game to 54-50 points with two minutes to play. But the defense clamped down (and got two big breaks when Smotrycz missed a couple of open threes), allowing just a three-pointer as the clock ran toward zero; that affected only those who bet on UVA -11, as the game ended 61-53.
The Hoos were a bit sluggish on both sides of the ball at times, and UMD deserves credit for coming out and playing hard all game. Tony Bennett commented that he noticed in Maryland's eyes during warm-ups that they would play tough, and that they did.
Maryland beat Virginia on the boards, garnering a DReb% of 77% to UVA's 72%. Seth Allen had a great game, scoring 15 on 7-14 shooting, as the Terps utilized the weave to find him an opening to the hoop, and London Perrantes struggled to stick on him. Settling into a more deliberate game was an interesting strategy for a team that likes to run, but probably an effective one against UVA's transition defense. Maryland guarded uncharacteristically doggedly throughout. The Hoos made the plays to get it done down the stretch, but the season-ending rematch in the Comcast Center should be a battle.
Joe Harris used a big second half to finish with a game-high 19 points on 7-14 shooting, including 4 of 7 from behind the arc. Harris seemed to come out after halftime with a more aggressive mentality, and his team was better off for it. Brogdon was 6 of 13 from the field to finish with 14. But it was Akil Mitchell who took advantage of UMD's weaker interior defense to score 13 on efficient 6 of 8 shooting, while also grabbing a game-high 6 rebounds and playing his typically active defense.
Four players saw 30+ minutes for UVA, but Tony Bennett seems to be using Mike Tobey's spot to substitute more freely. Tobey played just 18 minutes, scoring 4 points and allowing for Darion Atkins to once again play quality time off the bench. Anderson did some good things, but needs to be be cautious about pulling the trigger on his jumper, as he was 1-7 from the field.
The Hoos have a well-deserved and much-needed 5 day break before they head to Littlejohn Colleseum to take on Clemson. According to KenPom, UVA's hardest remaining game on the schedule is not their showdown with Syracuse. It's this road test, where the Hoos figure to only be favored by a point or two. The Tigers have used their defense to overcome a brutal offense (better than only VT's in ACC play) and run out to a 6-4 ACC start and a spot in March Madness contention. Shutting down first-team all-ACC candidate KJ McDaniels, a force on both sides of the ball, will be the name of the game for Tony Bennett's team. That'll tip off at noon Saturday and be televised on ESPN2. Until then, enjoy UVA's 11-1 start!
I'll leave you with this picture of Anderson's thunderous block....