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Recapping the 2014-15 Virginia Basketball Season

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There are 30 days left until UVa tips off against Morgan State. The Hoos won 30 games last season. Let's look back on a magical run that ended too soon.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A school-record 30 wins.

19 straight wins to start the season.

A second consecutive outright regular season ACC championship.

15-1 at JPJ.

Highest ranking in the polls since 1983 (No. 2).

It was a roller-coaster of a year in 2014-15, as the Virginia basketball team reached new heights under the direction of Coach Tony Bennett. Although the postseason glory of 2014 would not be in store for the Wahoos this past March, the team left their fans with so many things to cheer for throughout the campaign. Let's look back, month-by-month, at an incredible season.

November

  • Nov. 8, @ James Madison: W, 79-51
  • Nov. 16, Norfolk State: W, 67-39
  • Nov. 18, South Carolina State: W, 75-55
  • Nov. 21, George Washington: W, 59-42
  • Nov. 28, vs. La Salle (Barclays Center Classic): W, 64-56
  • Nov. 29, vs. Rutgers (Barclays Center Classic): W, 45-26

The team was clicking on all cylinders early, ranked No. 9 in the preseason polls. The first major test came against a 2014 NCAA tournament team in George Washington. Justin Anderson showcased his acrobatic ability with a handful of highlight-reel jams as UVa pulled away late, outscoring the Colonials by 21 in the second half.

Down 18-17 at halftime against Rutgers, Virginia held the Scarlet Knights to eight (eight!) points in the second half and won the Barclays Center Classic.

December

December featured four wins that propelled Virginia into the national conversation. A gritty win in a hostile environment at Maryland saw Anderson score 16 points before going down with an ankle injury against the team he originally committed to in high school . He would return for the Hoos' throttling of VCU, which featured a 15-0 UVa run late in the game to get revenge on 2013's "state championship" thriller in Charlottesville. After dispatching Cleveland State, the defense again held another team to just eight points in a half, as Harvard made just one field goal in the first half and trailed 39-8 at the intermission. Getting past Davidson's high-octane offense was no easy task to accomplish, but a career-high 25 points from Anthony Gill and 51 total in the second half (Who says Virginia can't score?) were enough to send Virginia into the conference slate with an unblemished 12-0 record.

January

  • Jan. 3, @ Miami: W, 89-80
  • Jan. 7, NC State: W, 61-51
  • Jan. 10, @ Notre Dame: W, 62-56
  • Jan. 13, Clemson: W, 65-42
  • Jan. 17, @ Boston College: W, 66-51
  • Jan. 22, Georgia Tech: W, 57-28
  • Jan. 25, @ Virginia Tech: W, 50-47
  • Jan. 31, Duke: L, 69-63

What. A. Month. The Miami win looked to be a sure loss late in the first overtime until Anderson's three-point heroics saved the perfect season. At Notre Dame, the Hoos made their case to be the nation's top-ranked team, and received a couple of number-one votes for the remainder of the month. Three relatively easy wins followed, and again, UVa would call on Anderson at Virginia Tech. A late alley-oop and three-pointer proved to be the difference in Blacksburg as the Cavs avoided the upset bid.

Then it was on to the big one. Duke came into town having just dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon from the program. College GameDay came to Charlottesville for the first time ever, and the fans did not disappoint. The game itself was a classic, one of the best in the regular season across the nation. Virginia led by five late thanks to a Malcolm Brogdon three and, of course, an Anderson alley-oop. Duke scored 11 points in a row after that, as Quinn Cook's three gave Duke the lead and Tyus Jones delivered the dagger with 11 seconds to go, silencing the JPJ faithful. Seriously, the air left the entire building and the concourse was a graveyard on the way out. The undefeated season was done.

February

Any rumors of Virginia's demise after the Duke game were quickly wiped away with a strong performance and a result to match at North Carolina. A thrilling win over Louisville was severely dampered less than an hour after the final horn, as the school announced that Anderson had suffered a broken finger in the first half and would be out for around six weeks. A scare at NC State preceded a nail-biter at home against Wake Forest, and a last-second defensive stop from Brogdon kept Virginia's modest winning streak alive. UVa powered through a scary injury to both Brogdon and London Perrantes to beat Florida State by 10 in what would be a preview of their quarterfinal game in the ACC tournament. Bennett was all smiles after a throttling of Wake Forest that saw two walk-ons score. Senior Darion Atkins made senior day his personal stage with a couple of late dunks as Virginia swept the Commonwealth rivalry for the third straight year. March was fast approaching, and Anderson was expected to be back in the lineup shortly.

March

The month of March began with promise renewed. A stunning win, if only because of the way Virginia started, against Syracuse gave Virginia the outright ACC regular season championship for the second year in a row and the third time in program history. Amid reports that Anderson would be healthy to return to the lineup against Louisville for the regular season finale, he underwent an appendectomy two days before the game. A late shot from Mangok Mathiang gave the Cavaliers just their second loss all year, and it was time to regroup for Greensboro.

All went well against Florida State in the ACC tourney quarterfinal. The Hoos never trailed, and Anderson had two rebounds, albeit no points, in 12 minutes off the bench. The team was clearly gassed against North Carolina in the semis. Trailing seven at halftime, Brogdon almost single-handedly picked UVa up from a late second half deficit with 22 of his 25 points coming in the second half, including stretches where he scored first eight, then 12 of Virginia's points in a row. The Heels made all six of their free throws late, and the dream of a second straight ACC tournament title was gone. Anderson missed all six of his shots in the game while still sporting a bandage on his shooting hand.

On Selection Sunday, UVa's 29-3 record was rewarded with a No. 2 seed and old nemesis Michigan State in the same pod. Belmont proved to play above their title of a No. 15 seed, but if not for Craig Bradshaw's 25 points, including five threes, it wouldn't have been nearly that close. Earlier in the day, Michigan State sent Georgia packing, and the rematch was set.

Hopes that Anderson would return to form and that the offense's slow starts of the previous month and a half persisted until game time, and surely Michigan State wouldn't be able to keep up with UVa's refined defense. Right?

UVa started 2-of-10 shooting and never could get into a rhythm before the Spartans went on another run. Anderson was 0-for-4 from three, and the team was 2-for-17. Overall, the Cavaliers shot 29 percent from the field, and Travis Trice's 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 4-for-8 from downtown did the Wahoos in, as Michigan State broke Central Virginia hearts one more time. A team that looked like a strong contender for the national championship was suddenly, shockingly, done in the first weekend of the tournament.

How do you remember the season, seven months after it ended? What was your favorite single moment? Favorite win?