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THE BIG PREVIEW: Hoos return to action at JPJ against Stony Brook

The long 10-day break is over!

NCAA Basketball: Stony Brook at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After getting blown out by Purdue, Virginia really needed a strong performance heading into the exam break to ease the fears that had cropped up due to that game. Yes, it was one game, but the team had been trending down and the loss seemed inevitable.

They, of course, got that good performance against North Carolina to ease that anxiety and head into the exam break looking better. They sit in first place in the ACC, tied with Louisville and Boston College (of course).

In that UNC game, Virginia finally got some good outside shooting from one of the perimeter players as Tomas Woldetensae broke out with a 3-for-4 performance beyond the arc. Perhaps we should’ve expected that, as his JUCO experience gave him a leg up on the other youngsters. The Hoos also got an unexpected lift from freshman big man Francisco Caffaro.

Caffaro’s extended playing time was likely due to several factors, including Braxton Key’s absence and the big man’s abilities to hit the boards hard against UNC’s strong rebounders.

Now, Virginia’s 10-day exam break comes to an end as the No. 9 Cavaliers welcome the Stony Brook Seawolves to JPJ Wednesday night at 6:30pm.

The Seawolves are ranked 180th on KenPom right now, but they have only one win — a 7-point win over North Dakota State — over a top-200 team. They did stay with 75th ranked Providence for the entire game, losing by four on the road, and led at halftime against 23rd ranked Seton Hall before getting run off the court in the second half.

The one thing Stony Brook has going for it in this matchup is that they can shoot. Their top three scorers, Elijah Olaniyi, Makale Foreman, and Andrew Garcia, are all capable shooters. The trio combines to shoot nearly 40% from downtown on almost 20 attempts per game.

Considering that Virginia’s opponents are taking almost exactly half of their shots from downtown (one of the highest rates in the nation), this is the only chance Stony Brook has. If they get one or two guys hot, they can give Virginia a good run. That’s what they did against Providence, making 11 threes at about a 35% that helped keep them in the game, and against Seton Hall early on.

That’s Foreman. It’s a designed play for him and he shows off his range. He’s a transfer from Chattanooga, and though he’s nominally the PG, the three perimeter players really share ball-handling duties. The play above is initiated by Olaniyi, with Foreman as the designated shooter.

Against Providence, the Seawolves played a lot of zone, showing both 2-3 and 1-2-2 (below). The Friars beat it with outside shooting, as shown below, to the tune on 12-for-27 from downtown. They also took advantage on the offensive glass, grabbing 35% of their own misses.

This game, like so many others, is going to come down to three point shooting. To beat Virginia, you’ve gotta make threes. Stony Brook can do that. Virginia finally started knocking down some shots last week against UNC, and that helped them win that game. They may not need quite as strong an effort this time out, but it would sure make things easier.

The game starts at 6:30pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.