In his preview of Virginia's 46-26 exsanguination of the Maine Black Bears, StLouHoo identified his three keys of the game:

1) Attack the passing lanes.

2) Fresh faces need to step up.

3) Attack the rim.

The Cavaliers were without Kody Stattmann for the fourth straight game, and this time they were also without Braxton Key. How did StLouHoo's Keys to the Game figure in the outcome?

1) Attack the passing lanes.

Maine came into the game as the 7th best team in the nation with assists on 68% of their made baskets. That ball movement comes at a price: They are also 5th worst in the country at getting the ball stolen (13.9% of possessions) and 54th worst at turning it over (23.5%). UVA's defense is doing pretty well in these areas, with a 24.2% turnover percentage (including the Maine game) that is 21st in the nation, and a 10.4% steal percentage that ranks 99th.

Whether it came from attacking the passing lanes or simply general defense, the Cavaliers blew away StLou's key by grabbing 9 steals and forcing 21 turnovers.  Although the Black Bears did top their season average with an 87.5% assisted basket ratio, that was because they only had 8 made field goals.  Yes, you read that right, 8 - eight - made field goals.  For the game.  They assisted on 7 of their 8 field goals.  You might also have noticed that Virginia had more steals than Maine had field goals, and almost as many turnovers as points.  Virginia's 9 steals accounted for 16.4% of Maine's possessions, while those 21 turnovers consumed a whopping 38.2% of Maine possessions.

The turnovers were crucial to the outcome because without Key the Cavaliers were awful on the boards, giving up a gross 11 offensive rebounds for a downright unacceptable 33% of Maine's misses.  On the other end of the floor, the Hoos continued their bricklaying ways of this season.

With Virginia making just 38.6% of their field goal attempts (to their credit, the Hoos did double their season average from three with 33.3%), rebounding a mere 19.2% of their misses, and clocking a 23.6% turnover percentage, and giving up so many second chances to Maine's offense, without such an abnormally large amount of wasted Maine possessions, Virginia conceivably could have lost this game, which would have been an even worse upset than Duke's loss to Stephen F. Austin.  Maine was 316th out of 353 D1 teams in Kenpom's adjusted efficiency margin rankings coming into the game, and that was the #306 defense that Virginia couldn't score 50 against.

Grade: A

2) Fresh faces need to step up.

Down two starters from an already thin rotation, the Cavaliers needed help elsewhere. They didn't get it. It was as if Key's contribution was simply scooped out of Virginia's production. Without him, they couldn't scratch 50 against the 306th defense in the country and were outrebounded. Oh. my. God. The other veterans were not able to up their game to compensate, and the four new scholarship players accounted for 7 points on 2-14 from the floor (1-8 3FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 4 steals and 5 turnovers.  Freshman walkon Chase Coleman added 2 points in 11 minutes.

Grade: F

3) Attack the rim.

One thing Maine does do well is defend the three-point line. With their height on the perimeter, their talent for waving their arms around whenever an opponent gets near, and their skill at pushing hips and undercutting, they harry opposing three-point shooters into a 12th-lowest 24.2% 3FG% and deter them from attempting a lot of three.  Instead, teams go into the paint to attack the donut hole (there is no donut hole in that donut hole, and not a donut with a donut hole in it - sorry, I saw Knives Out last night) in the Black Bears' defense.

Virginia's success here was mixed. They were a sub-standard 42.3% on their two-point field goal attempts, although that was primarily because of their horrendous (below average even for them) 21.4% success on two-point jumpers.  The Hoos converted 66.7% of their field goal attempts at the rim, up from the season average 63.8%.  Attempts were down, however, as only three Cavaliers got to the rim all night, and the team attempted 27.3% of its shots at the rim, down from 34.3% on the season.  Jay Huff hit all three of his shots at the rim, Casey Morsell was 50% and Mamadi made his season average with 4/6.  Add in the poor rebounding and it is fair to say that the Cavaliers failed to exploit Maine's interior defense.

Grade: C-

All-in-all, these Virginia Cavaliers were no Frankie Badocchis on the Keys last night.

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Maine (Basketball(M), November 27, 2019)