The Virginia Cavaliers started ACC play with a dramatic, back-and-forth 89-80 win over Miami in double overtime. The Hoos squandered a large halftime lead, allowed the Hurricanes to force overtime on an improbable finishing sequence, mounted a wild comeback of their own in OT, and sealed the win in double OT. Yes, ACC play is apparently WAY more intense than the out-of-conference. But the end result was a 9-point UVA win (if you had Virginia -7.5, congrats!); the Hoos are now 13-0 on the season and 1-0 in ACC play.
This game had 4 periods, and each of them had a unique story - let's look one by one.
First Half: The first 20 minutes was all UVA, as it looked like the team would pick up right where it left off, demolishing teams regardless of their stature or the game's location. After a Miami 3-pointer tied the game at 7, UVA outscored the Hurricanes 31-13 to take a 38-20 lead into halftime. Ho-hum.
Second Half: The early exuberance disappeared quickly. Miami started the half on a 17-4 run to close their deficit to 5 points just six minutes in. The Hoos clung desperately to the lead for the remainder of regulation, aided by timely shooting (London Perrantes drilled two three-pointers in the last two minutes) and some poor Miami FT shooting (the Canes missed 7 out of 9 at one juncture).
With under 30 seconds to go, a big Darion Atkins rebound on a Justin Anderson free throw miss...then another Darion Atkins rebound on a Darion Atkins free throw miss looked to seal the game for the Hoos. Evan Nolte stepped to the line to shoot two, with his team leading 63-60 and 5 seconds to play. He missed both. Miami's Angel Rodriguez was (questionably) fouled by Justin Anderson shooting a game-tying three, sunk all three FTs, and the game headed to OT.
First OT: This looked bad for the Hoos. With 29 seconds to play, Rodriguez hit two more free throws, stretching a 69-65 Miami lead. Anderson was (questionably) fouled shooting a three of his own, and converted all three of his shots. After two more Rodriguez free throws (there were a lot of late free-throws), Anderson drilled the game-tying three with 15 seconds remaining.
BOOM (nice screen by Mike Tobey too. Is there any time when a Tony Bennett set play doesn't work?):
Second OT: UVA's interior defense held strong, and Marial Shayok did an outstanding job of containing Rodriguez, who had caused havoc during Miami's run. Perrantes scored 9 of UVA's 18 double OT points, all from the line, and the Hoos walked off with an easy (ha!) 9 point win..
Virginia was absolutely gassed down the stretch, and were without Malcolm Brogdon, as he fouled out late in regulation. But they somehow found a way to survive a talented and pesky Miami squad who had the Hoos on the ropes. Miami scored 1.06 PPP, making them the second consecutive opponent to score more than a point per possession against the Wahoo defense, but UVA had JUST enough offensive firepower to overcome it.
The biggest eye-opener was the Hurricanes' success on the boards. Miami isn't a particularly strong rebounding team, where they rank worse than 175th on both sides of the ball. But they outrebounded the Hoos by grabbing 74% of UVA misses, while the Hoos pulled down 70% of Miami misses. The Hurricanes also converted 45% of their 2s, 10% above the Wahoo defense's season average.
London Perrantes had the big game the team needed, scoring a career high 26 points on 5 of 9 three-point shooting and an 11 for 12 effort from the free-throw line, while also notching 8 assists. London's shooting stroke had been way off during non-conference play, as he was 21% on 3s before tonight's effort. He was a more assertive floor general than he showed so far this season.
Anderson scored 16 points on 4-9 shooting (2-5 from behind the arc), and came through in the clutch when the team needed it. Mike Tobey added 14 points, while Marial Shayok had 9, while making a big impact on defense, especially after Brogdon fouled out. Darion Atkins also deserves a shoutout for his 8 point, 12 rebound night.
Winning in Coral Gables is no easy feat. (Virginia had failed to do so in the program's other 6 attempts.) Tonight, despite blowing an 18-point lead and taking more time off Wahoo fans' lives, the team ultimately did enough to leave with a wild win. Virginia returns to action Wednesday night, when NC State comes to JPJ for the team's ACC home-opener.