|Getting to the line (FT Rate)||30.4||42.3|
The Virginia Cavaliers took down George Mason by a score of 83-66 to win their third straight and take home the Charleston Classic title. UVA improved to 4-1 on the year, while GMU fell to 2-3 after two nice wins over Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.
London Perrantes was named tournament MVP, and Malcolm Brogdon joined him on the all-tournament team.
The Wahoos never trailed after Brogdon's three-pointer gave the team a 13-11 lead just over 5 minutes into the game. Despite the efforts of a feisty and hot-shooting Mason squad, UVA slowly stretched the lead out to 8 points by halftime, and dominated the second half. They led by as many as 23 before GMU scored the game's last 7 points to cover the 19 point spread.
Like in the team's first two games in Charleston, Virginia's offense exploded. The Hoos broke 80 for the third straight game - the last time they did that was when they opened JPJ by doing so four times in a row in 2006. While the 30-second shot clock is obviously having an effect, the game was played in 62 possessions, just a couple over last year's team average. But UVA put up 1.34 points per possession by making 55% of their 2s and 67% of their 3s (!).
The offense was led by Brogdon's 21 points, including 2-4 three-point shooting. London Perrantes made 3 of 4 long-range attempts, finishing with 16 points to go with 11 assists and 1 turnover. Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey each broke into double-digits as well, with 15 and 14, respectively.
Also, Mike Tobey had this dunk:
The offense has also done an outstanding job taking care of the ball. Tonight, UVA played a turnover-free first half, and lost five of their six turnovers during a sloppy four-minute stretch early in the second. The team's turnover rates this year: 13%, 12%, 14%, 12%, 10% (after averaging an excellent 16% last season).
Defensively, the results weren't there, as Mason scored 1.07 PPP. The Patriots deserve credit. They shot well, beat the Hoos on the offensive glass, behind Shevon Thompson's 5 offensive boards, and earned 22 free-throw attempts. GMU played a strong offensive game, but the last time the Hoos allowed 1.07 PPP or more against a team ranked worse than Mason on KenPom was UVA's 2012 loss to Old Dominion.
It's great that the offense has been clicking enough to make the defensive struggles moot, but it's unclear how sustainable it is. The free-throw line is where things need to improve. UVA's .28 FTA/FGA is 298th in the nation, while they've allowed opponents a .43 FTA/FGA (218th). In past years, Tony Bennett's teams haven't been great at getting to the line, but the defense didn't allow their opponents to do so much either. Clearly, the new "freedom of movement" emphasis is having an adverse effect on Virginia, but the team has to learn to adjust on both sides of the ball.
Tony Bennett started Jack Salt in Mike Tobey's place, likely an attempt to get some extra defensive presence, though Tobey played 20 minutes to Salt's 18. Marial Shayok started again, but also only played 13 minutes - fewer than both Darius Thompson and Devon Hall, who came off the bench. And Evan Nolte only entered for the game's final 3 minutes. It'll be interesting to see how playing time ends up working out; 9 Hoos played 13 or more minutes, though that'll probably tighten up a bit come ACC play.
While a win by a top-ten team over three middling mid-majors shouldn't be anything groundbreaking, the result was Virginia's third straight "early season tournament" title. There were dark days when the Hoos used to lose these strange tourneys to the likes of TCU and Delaware. It's good to have those behind us.
Looking ahead, Virginia has one more "tune-up" again when they take on Lehigh Wednesday night in Charlottesville. After that, they head to Ohio State to begin a run of 5 straight non-conference matchups against KenPom top-100 teams. For now, enjoy the hardware: