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How do scoring droughts affect Virginia Basketball?

UVA has held opponents scoreless for over five minutes 18 different times this season

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

One of the keys to the Virginia Cavaliers success has been holding teams scoreless for long stretches of time. On the flip side, one of the critiques of UVA is that their offense can go cold for long periods of time, negating their great defensive play. How often do these scoring droughts actually happen and how does they correlate to the outcomes?

To find out, I went through the box scores of all 30 Virginia games this season and tallied whenever the Hoos or their opponents did not score for 3, 5, 8 or 10 minutes. The results are striking:

Scoring Droughts

Length Times UVA Opponents Held Scoreless Times UVA Held Scoreless
Length Times UVA Opponents Held Scoreless Times UVA Held Scoreless
3 Minutes 86 48
5 Minutes 18 5
8 Minutes 2 0
10 Minutes 1 (LOL Pitt) 0

86 times on the season UVA has held opponents scoreless for at least three minutes. That is almost double the amount of times the Cavaliers have had that long of a drought. Virginia has also held opponents scoreless for five minutes 18 times this season, which is more than three times as often as Virginia’s droughts. The Hoos have forced this five-minute scoring drought in 43% of their games. This advantage can be seen during ACC play as well:

ACC Scoring Droughts

Length Times UVA Opponents Held Scoreless Times UVA Held Scoreless
Length Times UVA Opponents Held Scoreless Times UVA Held Scoreless
3 Minutes 48 32
5 Minutes 12 4
8 Minutes 1 0
10 Minutes 1 (LOL Pitt) 0

UVA has held ACC teams without a point for five minutes three times more than they have gone that cold themselves.

It is also important to look at specific games to see if these droughts correlate to wins or losses. Against the easiest competition, it is no surprise UVA did well. Against Austin Peay, Savannah St, and Hampton, Virginia held them scoreless for three minutes a combined 12 times, while having no such droughts on the offensive end. The Hoos defense was also on point against some of the best teams on the schedule, holding UNC and Clemson scoreless for three minutes five times each.

Overall UVA’s defense had more three-minute gaps than the offense in 21 games, and more five-minute gaps in 11. In only six games did Virginia’s offense have more scoring droughts than the defense forced (WVU, Boston College, Syracuse-H, Virginia Tech-H, Louisville-A, and Notre Dame.)

Not surprisingly, two of those games are the two losses. At West Virginia, the Hoos had three scoring droughts of at least three minutes, compared to just two for the Mountaineers. Against Virginia Tech at home, UVA went five minutes without a point on two separate occasions. The Cavaliers have only had five five-minute scoring droughts all season and two of them were on that fateful ESPN College Gameday night. Luckily, the Virginia defense held the Hokies to two five-minute droughts as well, which played in part why the game was decided by only one point.

These scoring droughts by the offense are not the harbinger of doom for Virginia’s chances of victory though since the Hoos also had five-minute scoring droughts in wins over Wisconsin, Boston College, and Clemson. These droughts on both sides of the ball with be interesting to watch as UVA enters postseason play.