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Stock up, stock down from UVA basketball’s blowout loss to NC State

Virginia’s road woes continue with a frustrating 16-point loss

Virginia v NC State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers continued to struggle on the road in a discouraging 76-60 loss against NC State on Saturday. After a slow start to the game for both teams, NC State roared to life towards the end of the first half and they never looked back. The Cavaliers had no answers for NC State’s three-point offense and interior passing as Tony Bennett tinkered with the rotation yet again in search of a spark.

Stock up, stock neutral, stock down from a disappointing loss:

Stock Up

Blake Buchanan

Buchanan got the start today, for the first time since the Fort Myers tournament in November, in an effort to combat NC State big man DJ Burns’ size on the inside. The true freshman was overmatched from a pure size, age, and strength perspective, but he fought hard in his 23 minutes of action and held his own for the most part. Buchanan boxed out well, as the Hoos limited NC State to just five offensive rebounds. Compared to recent games, Buchanan moved and positioned himself well on defense, forfeiting a couple baby hooks to Burns and the other bigs but preventing NC State from dominating in the interior. But perhaps the greatest reason for Buchanan’s rising stock was Jake Groves’ abysmal performance on both offense and defense.

Team rebounding

As mentioned earlier, the UVA rebounded well, holding NC State to only five offensive rebounds, six less than their per game average. Despite their size disadvantage, the Cavaliers finished with just one fewer rebound than the Wolfpack. Ryan Dunn crashed the glass hard in back-to-back games. Buchanan did a solid job preventing easy second chance looks, and Taine Murray corralled a few boards as well. The final score makes it difficult to really see this as a positive note, but rebounding was a major weakness that needed to be addressed early in the season. If anything, the last few games demonstrated that the Hoos can hold their own on the glass against ACC opponents, and there may be a few other areas that need to be immediately prioritized for the team.

Stock Neutral

The “Big Three” (Beekman, Dunn, and McKneely)

The promising final box score tells a different story than the true progression of the game for Virginia’s big three. They all scored in double-figures, and Beekman recorded a double-double, but during NC State’s decisive 36-15 run in the middle of the game, they all but disappeared. McKneely came out of the gate hunting his shot, but he once again struggled to find open space for most of the game against legitimate defensive pressure. Beekman didn’t force the issue enough when it mattered most. His drives created the best offensive looks for the Hoos, whether it was a makeable shot for Beekman in the paint or a dump-off leading to a wide open layup for Dunn or Buchanan. On a positive note, Dunn has cemented himself as Virginia’s best rebounder and basket cutter, putting up 16 points on 9 shots in addition to 7 rebounds.

Taine Murray

Murray’s fantastic 12 point outing against Louisville may have been lightning in a bottle, or a product of Louisville’s general incompetence. Murray returned to earth with 0 points against NC State, which would regularly place him in the stock down category, yet it seems he’s carved a role in the rotation after previously serving as the ninth or tenth option. While he didn’t hit any shots, Murray grabbed four rebounds on top of some decent defense. Unless he stops knocking down shots altogether, Murray should see consistent minutes on this young Virginia team desperate for experience.

Stock Down

Jake Groves

Groves was removed from the starting lineup against NC State, most likely a tactical move by Bennett to match up against DJ Burns rather than a product of Groves’ performance. He subbed in pretty quickly, and did his best to play his way back to the bench with miserable defense, poor shot selection, and an inability to provide any shot-making. During the Hoos mid-year five-game win streak, Groves three-point shooting and mid-range game was a real spark for the offense, creating space and fluidity in the five-out and outside triangle looks. His defensive shortcomings were mostly covered by Dunn’s heroic playmaking. However, this game continued a three-game stretch of awful shooting from Groves, and his poor play on offense seemed to accentuate his lack of defense and rebounding.

Andrew Rohde

Rohde continued his cold stretch going 1-6 from the floor and 0-3 from 3-point range with just 2 points. Some solid plays early in the game—a couple of assists on offense and tipped passes on defense—were overshadowed by several bad turnovers and missed open threes. Too many possessions seemed to stall out with Rohde dribbling laterally, before a contested jumper late in the shot clock. Rohde’s outside shooting and court vision have kept him in the starting lineup, but if he keeps shooting below 30% from three and 33% from the field, it begs the question as to whether Bennett should mix up the starting lineup with some more Bond and Gertrude minutes.

Leon Bond and Elijah Gertrude

The biggest surprise in the rotation was the complete lack of playing time for Leon Bond and Elijah Gertrude. For the majority of the game, Bennett resorted to a seven-man rotation, with Jake Groves and Taine Murray being the first two off the bench. After seeing 14-plus minutes in six straight games, Bond has now touched the floor for a combined 11 minutes in the last two contests. Bond and Gertrude provide an athletic spark that could be essential in conference play, but Bennett doesn’t seem to trust their decision making or shooting enough to give them consistent minutes. Yet another blowout road loss may cause Bennett to shake the rotation up once more, giving Bond and Gertrude an opportunity to reclaim their playing time.

The defense

While the offense looked sub-par, it was Virginia’s defensive performance that truly lost them the game. After allowing just 15 points in the first 12 minutes, the Hoos surrendered 31 points in the next 12, giving up 41 points in the second half alone. Defensive strategy was all over the place, as the Hoos frequently double-teamed Burns and others at the three-point line thus giving up wide-open looks elsewhere after a couple quick passes. NC State hit 10 threes in addition to shooting 62% on two-point field goals. There was very little connectivity in the Pack Line, including some slow rotations from Virginia’s best defenders: Reece Beekman and Ryan Dunn. The Cavaliers have a lot to work on in the coming weeks with little room for error if they have postseason aspirations.