Now that is more like it. The Hoos were dominant in going 3-0 to take home the Charleston Classic championship. They executed brilliantly the issues that were exposed in the loss to George Washington. Most notable was the play of London Perrantes who averaged 14.3 points and 7.7 assists on his way to winning tournament MVP honors. Perrantes averaged 14.3 points per game while adding 7.7 assists. His efforts on offense freed up Malcolm Brogdon allowing him to average 14.6 ppg. In addition to Perrantes, the Hoos got quality contributions from Marial Shayok, Anthony Gill, and Mike Tobey. Virginia gets a stern test on Tuesday, on the road, against a quality Big Ten team. Here are three things to look for, From the Rafters
1) Take advantage of experience - This Ohio State team is very young sporting a seven-man rotation of three freshmen, three sophomores, and one junior. The talent is certainly there, especially in the freshmen, but to date they have struggled to play as a cohesive unit. The Buckeyes have trouble holding onto the basketball turning, it over on 22.8 percent of their possessions. While Virginia's defense isn't predicated on creating turnovers, they have enough defensive firepower to take advantage of a team that is loose with the ball. Another area where Virginia's experience will be strength is in the post. A storyline we have seen over the last year when Virginia goes up against freshman heavy teams is the disparity in size and strength. It's well documented how much more developed Virginia's players bodies are in comparison to their 18 and 19 year-old opponents. That should be on display as the Buckeye's biggest player down low only stands 6-11 250, but is more of a shot-blocker than a physical presence and rebounder. Other than that their front court checks in at closer to 6-7, 230. Look to the Hoos to take advantage down low and dominate the glass.
2) Start strong - While the offense has been clicking this season, it generally takes a while to get going. Whether that is a factor of different lineup combinations, or that other teams wear down as the game goes along, in a game against a foe like Ohio State, a slow start could come back to haunt the Hoos. In three of their last four games, Virginia took the majority of the first half to begin to pull away. In the opener of the Charleston Classic, Virginia held only a one possession lead up until the 4:57 mark of the first half. Last week against Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks trailed by only three up to the 2:39 mark. While Virginia went on runs to end the half with a comfortable lead, against the quality of opponents coming up this month, a slow start may put the Hoos in a hole they can't overcome.
3) Get Back to Basics - Throughout this year, one of the main storylines for Virginia has been the struggle of the defense to adjust to the freedom of movement rules. Those challenges will be tested Tuesday night when the Hoos face talented Ohio State freshman, JaQuan Lyle. Lyle will attempt to penetrate the Hoos' packline, looking to either get to the rim or find the man left open by the help defender. Watch out for Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop to be open when Lyle takes it to the hoop. What could help Virginia is that Loving isn't much a presence offensively in the post, and their #5, Trevor Thompson, isn't either. Therefore, doubling the post may not be as much a priority as it is against other teams. Either way, Virginia needs to use these games at the beginning of the season to work out any kinks in the defense before they head into conference play.
Tip time is at 7:30 on ESPN. Enjoy the game, join us in the Game Thread, and Go Hoos!