Battle 4 Atlantis Blog
11/24/18 – 3:30 p.m.
- It’s another Thanksgiving weekend, and another early season title for Wahoo hoops, and another……you know…..and I won’t go there.
- I’ve got to again mention the many Wahoo fans that came to the Bahamas and supported our team with vigor from the stands. Quite a few of the fans were families with children that had an experience they will never forget.
- The immediate post-game festivities were joyous. A Bahamian Junkanoo band paraded onto the floor in brilliant costumes and played an uplifting dance number. Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter joined in to shake and bake with the band.
The first half could not have gone any better for the Hoos, ending with a 33-18 advantage. Kihei Clark was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Braxton Key with the express intent of guarding D’Mitrik Trice, who had buried 7 of 8 three-point shots in Wisky’s semifinal against Oklahoma. The Badgers only made two 3-pointers in the game, with none by Trice. Great job Mong00se! Jack Salt also returned to the starting lineup to take on the impressive Ethan Happ – more on that match up later.
UVA’s Big Three (Jerome, Hunter, and Guy) scored 27 points in the first half as the Hoos excelled at both ends of the floor. The Packline defense frustrated Wisconsin, whose normally precise passing game failed to provide the open 3-point looks they enjoyed earlier in the Tournament.
The second half was a rock fight, as the Hoos shooting turned frigid (2-16 FG for the first 11 minutes). As my wife remarked, Kihei Clark uses his entire body when he shoots a 3-point attempt, and he hit a timely one in the middle of the dry spell. The Big Three did not score a second half bucket until Kyle Guy hit a short jumper just under the nine-minute mark to open the lead back to 42-35. Ethan Happ succeeded in bringing the Badgers back into the game with many crafty moves and passes.
Captain Jack Salt’s efforts deserve special recognition. The refs called a couple of cheap fouls on him, and Happ was allowed to hook, bang, and shove Jack with little consequences. Happ was very productive, but his six turnovers were more than the Hoos committed for the game (five). When Jack picked up his fourth foul late in the game, Tony trusted him and left him in to guard Happ. Maybe Jack flopped a little, but my video shows an egregious shove by Happ to clear away Jack (with four fouls) and score. Jack played 26 solid minutes, and gave his family a poignant wave after the victory was complete.
Most fans would have preferred another 33 points from the offense in the second half and a 20-point win. However, UVA won three tough games in less than 44 hours, and stayed tough and physical at both ends of the floor until the final whistle blew. Our buddy StLouHoo predicted a loss in the final, and it was certainly possible. Blowing a 15-point halftime lead would have been very disappointing, but this team was ready to finish and was rewarded for their efforts. There’s another trophy coming to the case!