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Virginia blows halftime lead, falls to rival Hokies 80-78

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers squandered a 14 point halftime lead to fall 80-78 in double overtime at the hands of rival Virginia Tech. Seth Allen’s game-winner with 3 seconds on the clock sealed a second-straight loss at Cassel Coliseum.

Category Virginia Virginia Tech
Category Virginia Virginia Tech
Offensive Efficency 0.98 1.00
eFG% 48.5% 50.8%
OReb% 18.2% 15.8%
TO% 12.9% 21.1%
FT Rate 36.4 44.1

It didn’t always seem like it would end this way. Virginia jumped out to an early 22-11 lead, appearing to pick up where they left off in the teams’ prior meeting, where the Hoos dismantled the Hokies 71-48. Even after VT used a 12-3 run to pull within a point, Virginia answered by scoring the next 13 points headed to halftime.

However, UVA’s lead quickly evaporated. The Hoos were unable to stop Zach LeDay, who went scoreless in the first half, and Seth Allen, who led the Hokies’ charge to eventually take the lead with 3:50 remaining. With the game tied and 27 seconds left, London Perrantes hit a tough layup. UVA picked up a needed stop, but Ty Jerome missed the front end of his one-and-one to give VT one last chance. After forcing Allen to miss a contested layup, UVA failed to box out and allowed Ty Outlaw a tip-in just before the buzzer, bringing back shades of the team’s last second loss to Villanova.

In overtime, Virginia had another chance to close the game, up by 3 with under a minute left. But Justin Bibbs drilled a game-tying three, and London Perrantes’s attempt at a go-ahead layup....did this:

Despite leading again in double overtime, the Hoos allowed another open look from behind the arc by Justin Bibbs. UVA tied the game with 17 seconds left on a Devon Hall layup, but failed to stand tall on defense, leading to Allen’s game-winner.

A key factor in Virginia Tech’s comeback was foul trouble from UVA’s frontcourt. Jack Salt was saddled with four fouls early in the second half, and Isaiah Wilkins would foul out in overtime. Small lineups or otherwise, the Hoos struggled to keep the Hokies out of the paint. They also failed to earn the drastic rebounding advantage they did in their first matchup. After grabbing 37% of their own misses at JPJ to VT’s 10%, the rebounding battle finished at a virtually equal 18%-16% in Cassel.

The Hoos also struggled from the free throw line. UVA finished 14-24 as a team, and missed the front sides of three one-and-ones; that’s 13 points left on the board.

Though London Perrantes attempted to will the Hoos back into the game, he was largely unsuccessful and understandably gassed toward the end. On the plus side, he had some key drives to the basket that extended the game. However, he also tried multiple deep three-pointers early in the shot clock, in a seeming attempt for a “dagger.” He’s had success in the past in that role, but couldn’t find the net tonight. Though London finished with a game-high 22 points, he was 7-22 from the field and 3-12 from behind the arc.

Kyle Guy finished with 12 points on 5-8 shooting, while Marial Shayok posted 11 and Hall had 10 points and a team-high 4 assists. What UVA sorely lacked was any semblance of an interior threat. Wilkins, Reuter, Salt, and Diakite combined to score 11 points on 3-13 shooting, while turning the ball over 6 times.

Losing to Virginia Tech is always a huge bummer, but it’s especially painful considering first place in the ACC was up for grabs and remembering the relative ease with which UVA won just two weeks ago. On the other hand, road games against decent teams are never easy, as we learn week in and week out. The painful part is seeing two new narratives: “UVA blows big leads” and “UVA can’t win in close games” crystalize. Personally, I am not putting much stock in these. These “reputations” based on short-run trends are fickle and fall victim to availability bias of a few memorable events sticking in our minds over the other times this season when Virginia didn’t blow leads (or came from behind) and did win close games.

The good news is there isn’t much time to dwell on this one. Duke comes to JPJ on Wednesday at 9 PM, then the Hoos head to Chapel Hill to play UNC on Saturday.