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We decided to do something this season immediately after games: Take a look back at StLouHoo's "Keys to the Game" from his preview and see how well the team did on those keys and how integral to the outcome those keys were.  For today's tilt with the James Madison Dukes from the other side of Afton Mountain, StLou identified the following keys:

1) Find our 3-point stroke from paint touches.

2) Shut down their shooters.

3) Don't bail them out with fouls.

The Cavaliers did a very good job in two of the three keys, and a deceptively good job in the third. That success in the keys had more impact on the final margin than on securing the win.  The win was secured with suffocating second half defense and controlling the ball.  First, the Cavaliers committed just 10 turnovers, while James Madison coughed it up 19 times.  Second, Virginia controlled the boards 46-35, with 14 offensive rebounds.  This time, Virginia's big men didn't let Kihei Clark sneak in and grab 11 boards. They limited him to 3 by combining for 30.  Mamadi Diakite led the way with 13 boards and Braxton Key had 10, as both of the seniors recorded double-doubles.  Jay Huff came off the bench for 7 boards.  Now let's take a look at the three keys:

1) Find our 3-point stroke from paint touches.

The Cavaliers had their second straight dreadful three-point shooting performance, hitting just 4 of 24 attempts.  Blargh and blech, and just:

However, as far as the key goes, my man StLouHoo specified finding our stroke "from paint touches."  What success the Hoos had hitting the three came from paint touches. Too many of the threes came from perimeter passing or just hoisting it up,  In fact, I thought the first half shot selection was for the most part crap.  Second half we did a much better job of pounding it into the paint, to the point that we forced them out of their zone. Key and Kihei hit threes after the ball went into the paint and was sent back out. With a team of players who are not natural three-point marksmen, it is even more important to make sure the ball touches the paint and is kicked out to the shooters.  I'll give the Hoos a C- on this key, because when they DID shoot off of paint touches, they did pretty well.  They simply didn't do it often enough.

2) Shut down their shooters.

JMU's star Matt Lewis scored 22 in his first game but felt he had been cold because he was only 1-7 from the arc.  He vowed to do better - and he did, going 4-9.  But he only tallied 14 points, and 11 of those points and 3 of those threes came in the first 12 minutes of the game.  He was held to one basket in the second half.  His teammates were a combined 4-20 from the arc, almost matching their opponents and their forebears (Syracuse) in three-point futility.  It has been raining bricks in Virginia's games so far, so if you go to the game on Saturday, wear your hard hat.  There were only a couple of occasions where Madison had good looks, those coming off of quality screening action.  Other than the occasional pick-and-pop, the Dukes were chucking over Virginia high hands.  The results were predictably bad.  I'll give the Hoos an A- on this one.

3) Don't bail them out with fouls.

The Cavaliers committed 9 fouls.  James Madison attempted 6 free throws.  As poorly as the Dukes shot from the arc, their three-point field goal percentage was HIGHER than their overall field goal percentage.  A+.

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James Madison (November 10, 2019)