The Virginia Cavaliers lost a tough contest on the road to the Virginia Tech Hokies, 62-53 in front of a sellout Cassel Coliseum crowd. As this puts an end to the Wahoos’ four game win streak, there’s plenty to assess ahead of the final four games of ACC play.
‘Hoos can’t hit a shot
Not that this team has been particularly proficient at hitting threes this season, but this game exacerbated those issues. On the road against a rival in a hostile environment, shots have to be made and UVA simply didn’t do that.
In fact, Virginia finished the night 0-9 from behind the arc. Kihei Clark had nothing going offensively and was clearly rattled by the crowd as he shot 1-9 from the floor and 0-5 from deep. Armaan Franklin at least produced some from the midrange, but he couldn’t get anything deep to fall either as he finished 0-3 on long balls.
Virginia’s been getting away with struggling from deep by dominating the paint and drawing fouls. When that well wasn’t quite as productive against VT, the offense stalled out and couldn’t keep up.
Front court continues to be this team’s backbone
Even when the backcourt can’t put together the necessary offensive showing, the Wahoo front court came to play against the Hokies. Jayden Gardner — despite scoring just two second half points — carried the offense for the first half and finished with 17 on the night to go with an astounding 14 rebounds.
Kadin Shedrick also came up big with 11 points and six rebounds. Those two fought through plenty of Hokie contact all night long while also having to battle with Keve Aluma on the other end. They gave the offense a much needed lift, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Hokies pulled away late.
The ‘Hoos get rattled
It’s not often that a Tony Bennett team is rattled in a road contest. Even in Cameron Indoor against Duke it seemed as though the ‘Hoos were in control the entire time. Yet, in Cassel Coliseum, the energy of the Tech fans and the sometimes questionable calls by the officials seemed to set the tone for Virginia’s play. Even Tony Bennett repeatedly lost his cool while yelling at the referees.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Road games test a team’s mettle and can provide a more realistic performance to evaluate. This loss gives Tony Bennett and company something to critique as Virginia heads into its final four games of regular season competition.
This loss hurts but isn’t fatal
After beating Miami and Duke in the midst of a four game winning streak, it felt as though this UVA squad could do no wrong and was poised to go on the type of run that UVA fans have come to expect from Virginia teams late in ACC play. Alas, a contest against a similarly hot Virginia Tech squad on the road, the ‘Hoos met their match for the first time in over two weeks.
Dropping this game hurts, it does. But it doesn’t derail Virginia’s tournament hopes. This is projected to be a Quadrant one loss so it won’t necessarily hurt UVA’s odds. Obviously winning it would’ve helped and could’ve put UVA a head of Tech — a fellow team near the bubble — in the tournament conversation.
Fortunately, Virginia still has opportunities for good wins on the road against Miami and home against Duke with contests against Florida State and Louisville for the purpose of fighting for positioning in the ACC standings. Hope isn’t lost, the ship hasn’t sun, UVA was just off in a tough environment and got beat by a hotter team.