The Virginia Cavaliers overcame their first game without Justin Anderson and a sloppy offensive effort, surviving a tough NC State team in Raleigh. Behind Malcolm Brogdon's 15 points and a stellar defensive effort, Virginia hung with the Wolfpack throughout before taking a late lead that would hold up in its 51-47 victory. And ugly or not, it'll move UVA to 22-1 (10-1 ACC); in defeat, NC State dropped to 14-11 (5-7 ACC).
|GAME STATS:||Virginia||North Carolina St.|
|Points Per Possession||.92||.86|
|Offensive Rebound %||42.9%||28.2%|
To Wahoo fans wondering how the loss of Anderson would affect the team's play, the answer is "a lot"; that can't be the only excuse for the team's sloppy play, but the Hoos missed him badly. Offensively, Anderson tends to be UVA's go-to guy when the team needs a spark, and they could have used one.
UVA trailed 21-19 at halftime, with NC State's final bucket set up by an offensive rebound when 3 Cavalier defenders failed to block out for the basketball. It was preceded by 20 minutes of poor offensive basketball, in which the Hoos shot just 33% from the field (they'd finish making 18% of their 3s and 43% of 2s). UVA had some good looks early, but they weren't falling, and things spiraled from there.
The most jarring aspect of the team's offensive struggles was the team's issues taking care of the ball. Just days after committing just 2 TOs against Louisville, a premier defense, the Hoos lost 12 at NC State in a 55 possession game - the Wolfpack entered the game 335th in the nation in forcing turnovers. Sports don't make sense sometimes.
For a 26 minute stretch spanning from early in the first half until 7 minutes remained in the game, neither team extended a lead of more than 2 points. That was snapped by Anthony Gill's three-point play to break a tie, and a Devon Hall fast-break lay-up to bring the lead to 5. NC State wouldn't lead again, but this was not the start of the Cavalanche that Wahoo fans were looking for. Rather, the Pack had a chance right up until the final minute.
After Malcolm Brogdon drilled a pair of FTs to bring the UVA lead to 5 with 47 seconds remaining, Trevor Lacey hit a 3 (he led his team with 14 points) to pull NC State back within 2. UVA inbounded the ball with 39 seconds left, and the Wolfpack, inexplicably, were not moving to foul. However, Malcolm Brogdon, rather than run the clock down to around 3 seconds, saw a lane to the hoop but missed a layup. Trevor Lacey picked up the ball, raced down the court, and in his haste to attempt to draw a foul, forgot to make the game-tying shot, effectively sealing the game for Virginia.
Brodgon was the steadying influence, whom UVA will lean on heavily without Anderson. He played 38 minutes, with his 2-minute breather coming after he picked up his third and fourth fouls, both questionable calls in a questionably officiated game. Mike Tobey was key for the Hoos, finishing 11 points on 4-10 shooting, while scoring on a key dunk with under 2 minutes to play and hitting the game-ending free throws. "Aggressive Tobey" was the player that showed up tonight, as he pulled in 9 rebounds, 3 on offense. Anthony Gill had 9, but was just 3-8 from the free-throw line, including a missed front-end of a 1-and-1. But he also was key on the boards, with 6 of his 11 rebounds coming on offense. UVA didn't do a great job on the defensive boards, but still handily won the rebounding battle.
Evan Nolte, Marial Shayok, and Devon Hall are the trio charged with filling Anderson's shoes. That's an impossible task. Nolte hit one of his two three-point attempts, and notched an assist and a steal, while Shayok missed his three field-goal attempts on consecutive possessions, and was quiet thereafter. Devon Hall provided a nice spark, scoring twice in transition, but it's his defense that will hold him back at this point. Importantly, on a night when the team coughed the ball up at an alarming pace, the three had 0s in the turnover column.
Virginia won the game by picking up their offense with excellent defense, once again. The Wolfpack tried to beat UVA downcourt and shoot quickly, but had few good looks, finishing with an eFG% of 36% (despite UVA's turnover issues).
Most fans don't complain about wins. Especially road wins. Especially road wins against good teams. Good teams who beat Duke and nearly took down UNC and Notre Dame. And the team is missing its best player. Ugly or not, a win's a win, and Tony Bennett agrees.
Coming up, the schedule looks favorable: vs. Wake Forest, vs. Pitt, vs. Florida State, @ Wake Forest, vs. Virginia Tech. That's as good a time as any to shake out the turnover bug, get comfortable playing without Anderson, and win some more games. UVA starts their three-game home-stand Saturday at 2:30 PM against the Demon Deacons.