In their third game in Italy, the Virginia Cavaliers took their first loss of the trip in their first of two games against the Serbian team KK Mega Basket. With a final score of 92-73, this result shouldn’t be taken too seriously. KK Mega Basket is a legitimate developmental program that has been competitive against numerous high quality college programs that have played them while abroad. In fact, the club has produced 15 NBA draft picks including the NBA’s MVP for the last two years, Nikola Jokic.
Starting this contest were Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman, Armaan Franklin, Ben Vander Plas, and Kadin Shedrick as three freshmen including Isaac Traudt, Ryan Dunn, and Leon Bond III were UVA’s inactive players for today’s game.
Early foul trouble limited the ‘Hoos but UVA largely stuck with the Serbian squad throughout the first quarter. Shedrick was the leading force for UVA, scoring 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. He even hit a three-pointer, displaying his newly developed shooting ability that he’s worked hard on this offseason. The rising junior has been UVA’s brightest spot in Italy and projects to have a breakout third season.
At the end of the first quarter, KK Mega held a one-point lead, 27-26. Off the bench, Jayden Gardner added seven points as UVA’s offense thrived in the paint.
The second quarter was where separation started to occur as UVA turned the ball over a couple times and KK Mega took advantage. Although the Virginia offense still kept the team in the game as both Taine Murray and Isaac McKneely nailed triples that pulled the ‘Hoos back within five points at the end of the first half with the score sitting at 44-39.
The third quarter was a similar story to the second with KK Mega slowly building a bigger lead. Through thirty minutes, UVA trailed by 10 points, 69-59. Taine Murray added four points in the period to bring his total to 10 while Shedrick also contributed four
Perhaps this is more opponent dependent than anything else, but off of pure score alone, UVA’s offense appears to be farther along than its defense. Of course, Euro developmental teams are a different breed than ACC competition and are typically more skilled offensively and less stringent defensively by design.
With the ‘Hoos down 10 heading into the fourth, things stayed the same through the final 10 minutes of action as each team traded off baskets until KK Mega pulled away to take the 19-point win. It’s a shame that the UVA defense couldn’t contain the Serbian squad considering the experience this roster has. Letting up 92 points in 40 minutes is, well, less than ideal.
But this was still a good experience for the ‘Hoos and should prove to be a litmus test for the coaching staff regarding where the team is and what it needs to do to improve come November.
Stay tuned to this story and Streaking the Lawn for additional stats, analysis, and highlights from today’s game. UVA takes on KK Mega once again tomorrow afternoon as their final game of the trip.