In a game the ‘Hoos should have won, the Virginia Cavaliers dropped a disappointing contest to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 63-55. With the loss, UVA falls to 4-3 in conference play and 10-7 on the season.
Scoring droughts are killer
Even with Franklin putting up big numbers, the offense went through three scoring droughts of four-plus minutes including a six minute one late in the second half which corresponded with a 13-point Demon Deacon run which sealed the game for Wake.
Reece Beekman and Kihei Clark’s lack of offensive production combined with the big men’s inability to put points on the board doomed the Wahoos. Even with a defense that was on point for most of the game, the UVA offense was insufficient when it mattered most scoring just eight points in the final ten minutes of play.
Armaan Franklin is hitting his stride
Scoring 18 points on 7-11 shooting on the game, Armaan Franklin was the bright-spot for the UVA offense against Wake Forest. As he nailed home 3 threes on the night and continued to be silky smooth from the midrange, the Indiana transfer provided this team rare easy offense.
Quietly, Franklin has seemingly found his groove in ACC play of late. He’s appeared comfortable and confident as a scorer and has provided much needed aggression in the backcourt.
While that scoring presence hadn’t necessarily translated to improved outside shooting, Franklin had his best outside shooting performance since roughly two months ago. He is a streaky shooter but is now starting to show signs of consistency as the season progresses.
Bigs struggles to score inside
While Franklin impressed on the perimeter, the paint scoring was largely non-existent for the Wahoos as Jayden Gardner, Francisco Caffaro, and Kadin Sherick all failed to produce.
After Caffaro went off for 16 points against Virginia Tech, he struggled big time on offense against the Demon Deacons as he finished with just 5 points on a rough 2-9 shooting.
Gardner carried over his poor offensive play from the Tech win as he finished 3-14 from the floor with 9 points. His play of late is starting to be a tad concerning as — when playing against superior size — he’s been ineffective where he was so efficient in non-conference play.
Defense falls apart late
For most of this contest, the pack-line defense was on it and made life tough for Wake Forest and its leading scorer Alondes Williams. Yet, as the game hit its final stretch, Williams went to work and bullied Reece Beekman and the Wahoo defense to clinch the victory for the Demon Deacons.
On either end of the floor, Virginia seemed to just lose its legs in the last ten minutes of gameplay. In particular, defensive rebounding became quite the issue for the Wahoos in the final minutes.
Young guys not getting minutes
With this team now sitting just a game above .500 in conference play, there is the argument to be made that it’s time to start playing the younger guys who’ve been missing out on opportunities of late.
It’s admittedly difficult to realistically envision this team’s path to an NCCA Tournament at-large bid. So, if playing the experienced guys heavy minutes isn’t going to get this team where it wants to be, why not give players like Igor Milicic Jr., Taine Murray, and Carson McCorkle more run considering they’re the potential future of this program?
Tony Bennett is known for doing whatever’s necessary to win each and every game. His mentality isn’t to give young talent minutes just for the sake of their development. But — with where this team seems to be heading — it’s at least worth raising this conversation.