The Virginia Cavaliers finally shook off that 9-game losing streak this afternoon, as it won its first ACC Tournament game since 2006. The 68-62 victory over Boston College was one in which the Wahoos committed only 5 turnovers (the fewest since 2003), and in which 5 'Hoos scored in double digits (interestingly enough, these were the only players to score all game). Mike Scott picked up the 7th double-double of his career (11 points, 13 rebounds). But it was Sammy Zeglinski who shot lights out, picking up a season-high 21 points with 5 threes.
"The players understood the significance of everybody coming to play," said Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett. "That was our only chance."
Virginia was all but counted out of the tournament already after news broke this past week that the Hoos would be without second-team All-ACC star Sylven Landesberg and team tri-captain Calvin Baker. But this isn't the first time the Hoos have been forced to play without Sylven. It was trial by fire a few weeks ago against Duke when Landesberg sat out for medical reasons. The results were painful. Then the Hoos were forced again on Saturday to learn to work together against Maryland, and down by only a point with under a minute to go, you couldn't help but be impressed about the fight left in the team. This afternoon, though, things fell Virginia's way.
Here's what I liked during the game:
1. Moving with confidence. Did you see Sammy driving to the lane, kicking it back out, darting balls at players, and generally sinking anything that left his hands? Some of that could also be seen from Jeff Jones, whose three buckets of the day all came from beyond the arc.
2. Aggressive defense. We returned to packing the line and abandoned the zone. We kept one hand on the other guy's hips the whole time, and forced them to take bad shots or shots from well beyond the arc (which, amazingly, oftentimes fell in).
3. Bub Evans's floater. Yes, the one that sailed right over the bucket, over the backboard, and over the shot clock. I can laugh about this because we were in the lead at the time, but you had to have seen it. To be fair, it was a very pretty arc.
Here's...room for improvement:
1. Assane Sene's hands. Come on, big guy. You're under the bucket. You've got to know where the ball is and when it's coming your way, because all you have to do is catch and pop up to lay it in. I saw at least twice, within a minute of each other, when Sene just wasn't able to get his hands around the ball, and I think there's room for improvement here.
2. Rebounds. Rebounds. Rebounds. I recognize that Boston College is a bigger team than us, but with 3 Virginia jerseys under the basket and only one BC jersey, there are very few reasons why you can't pull it down. I don't think I'm seeing enough intensity on the boards, and I think there's room for improvement here. (We were only outrebounded 31-37 here.)
3. Keeping everyone in the game at all times. This was more of a problem in the first half than the second, but on offense, you really only saw Sammy zig-zagging around the court, while at times, some of the other guys were just sort of hanging out. These guys have got to stay in the offensive set start to finish.
Hoos face fourth-ranked, top-seeded Duke tomorrow.
"It's been a while since we got (a win)," Bennett said. "But certainly it's nice to get it."