The #3 Virginia Cavaliers beat #13 Notre Dame 62-56, picking up a huge road win against a very good Fighting Irish squad. With their strong effort down the stretch, UVA remains undefeated at 15-0 and 3-0 in ACC play; Notre Dame drops to 15-2 (3-1), as their 11-game win streak was snapped.
Virginia got off to a quick start, taking a 16-6 lead, but the Irish stormed back, using a 13-0 run to take a lead they would ultimately take into halftime. They extended the margin to as much as 34-26, but UVA made a run of its own, tying the game with 11 minutes to play and setting up a back-and-forth finish.
The lead changed hands 7 times in the next 7 minutes, but the Hoos took the lead for good at 56-53 on a big Justin Anderson three with under 4 minutes to play. UVA didn't allow another point until Notre Dame sunk a three at the buzzer. (Does that 9-3 finish qualify as a mini-Cavalanche?)
Virginia's defense was in for its toughest test yet, against a Notre Dame offense ranked second in the nation by KenPom. The Irish lead the nation with a 63% eFG%, but were held to just 42% tonight, as they made 41% of their 3s but just 29% of their 2s (35% below their season average). Jerian Grant scored just 6 points on 2-7 shooting. It was Pat Cannaughton who UVA had trouble with, as he finished with 21; ND's offense is a tough matchup for anyone, and the Hoos are no exception. The Irish's range bothered UVA, but Virginia's interior dominance was enough for the win.
Notre Dame finished at 1.04 PPP, with the Hoos at 1.14. The margin would have been wider, but UVA shockingly lost the rebounding battle. UVA entered 3rd in the nation in defensive rebounding (allowing offensive rebounds 23% of the time), and Notre Dame was 241st in the nation in offensive rebounding (29%). But Notre Dame rebounded 38% of their own misses, easily beating UVA's 30%. The Hoos were hurt by some bad bounces, let some balls slip out of their hands, and generally just let undersized Notre Dame guards sneak into better position.
Despite those rebound struggles, which may have stemmed from the Hoos' playing some unconventional lineups, Darion Atkins had an outstanding game. He led the team with 14 points on 7-11 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds; he was as active as he's been all season. Mike Tobey took advantage of his size to add 8, while Gill, whose playing time was clipped the most by Notre Dame's guard-heavy lineup, had 4. Isaiah Wilkins also had his first substantial ACC playing time, grabbing 4 rebounds and playing strong defense in his 14 minutes.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 13 points on 4-8 shooting, while Justin Anderson had 11 on 3-6 shooting, including 2 big shots from behind the arc. Marial Shayok's 7 points included a cold-blooded three-pointer with a man in his face in a tie game with 6 to play.
Fun fact: UVA has had a different leading scorer in each of its last 5 games. Tobey/Brogdon (Harvard), Gill (Davidson), Perrantes (Miami), Anderson (NC State), and now Atkins against Notre Dame. How cool is that! (H/t to @AnnieToulmin for that one.)
This was a huge win for Virginia. Notre Dame is a dangerous team, especially in South Bend, that's been red hot lately and showed potential to compete in the upper tier of the ACC. At 3-0, UVA has a more forgiving 4-game stretch until its January 31st showdown against Duke. The Hoos play Tuesday at home against Clemson, then at Boston College, vs. Georgia Tech, and @ Virginia Tech. KenPom gives the team an 83% chance of winning all four.