The Virginia Cavaliers were walloped by No. 6 NC State 93-66 on Thursday evening inside Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. It’s the fifth loss in their last six contests for the Cavaliers who dropped to 8-7 (0-4 ACC) on the season.
Here are five takeaways from UVA’s difficult road test.
It was a bad day to play in Raleigh
The sixth-ranked Wolfpack improved to 15-1 (3-1 ACC) with their win on Thursday and extended their home winning streak to 11 games. It was going to be a tough task regardless for Virginia to walk into Reynolds Coliseum and come out with a win, but NC State was playing with some extra tenacity after suffering their first loss of the season on Sunday in a road contest at then No. 11 Virginia Tech.
The Wolfpack were fired up from tip-off and quickly jumped out to an 18-point lead by the end of the first quarter after shooting 61.1% from the floor and 50% from beyond the arc in the opening period.
Thursday’s showing was clearly far from Virginia’s best performance, but even if the ‘Hoos had played up to their potential a win in Raleigh would’ve been a tall task.
The Wolfpack bested the ‘Hoos at their own game
Virginia does most of their offensive damage in transition, but the Wolfpack were able to flip the script on UVA and outscore the ‘Hoos 36-14 on fastbreak points.
Virginia only grabbed five steals and the Wolfpack shot 48.5% from the floor overall and 43.5% from three-point range, so the ‘Hoos didn’t have many opportunities to push the pace off defensive rebounds or live-ball turnovers. On the flip side, the Wolfpack were routinely able to beat UVA over the top, especially in the first half.
Without the advantage in transition, the ‘Hoos couldn’t overcome another lackluster shooting performance, as Virginia shot below 35% from the floor (27-82 FG) for the fourth consecutive game.
The ‘Hoos need a consistent third scorer
For the second-straight game, only Camryn Taylor (22 points, 9-16 FG) and Kymora Johnson (14 points, 6-19 FG) scored in double figures for the ‘Hoos as the pair combined for 36 of UVA’s 66 points.
Paris Clark, London Clarkson, and Sam Brunelle have had scoring spurts throughout the season to supplement Taylor and Johnson but the ‘Hoos have lacked additional consistency, especially in conference play.
For Virginia to take the next step, the ‘Hoos need to sort out their offensive inefficiencies and a reliable third scorer should be at the top of their wish list.
Virginia wasn’t able to get to the line
The ‘Hoos entered Thursday’s matchup 15th in the nation with a 78.2% free throw percentage and tied for 42ndin the nation with 14.86 free throws made per game.
Their proficiency at the line has masked a lot of Virginia’s offensive struggles as of late, but against the Wolfpack the ‘Hoos only managed to knock down six free throws on eight attempts. Going forward, attacking the rim and drawing fouls should be a continued priority for this squad.
UVA is now 0-4 in league play
After going 8-3 in their non-conference schedule with competitive losses against highly ranked LSU and Oklahoma, things have gone south in ACC play. Two matchups with the top-ten Wolfpack haven’t helped, but clearly this isn’t the start to league play that Coach Mox and company had hoped for as the Cavaliers are still searching for their first ACC win.
With six ranked teams in the conference and NCAA Tournament caliber opponents up and down the league, it was always going to be tough sledding in conference play, but the ‘Hoos certainly haven’t played their best basketball thus far.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier as a trip to Chapel Hill for a matchup with No. 20 North Carolina is next up for Virginia on Sunday afternoon.