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Former Virginia target Armando Bacot was on the court despite twisting his ankle so badly it seemed that he’d be out the month of December. Would his presence be a game changer?

 

UVA56
UNC47


Positive

What a difference a game makes, huh? After being listless and lethargic for THE rematch game of the decade, the defense was dialed in all game long, only surrendering 2 fast break points to the Tar Heels, and holding star freshman Cole Anthony to 12 points on 4 – 15 shooting. In addition, the Cavs held their own in the Battle for the Boards. While UNC is long and strong inside, Virginia outrebounded them on the night. On both ends of the court.  After getting pushed around by Maine (!) and then Purdue, this was a collective effort.

 

Positive

Free throw shooting.  Mamadi Diakite was 5 – 5, Kihei Clark was 5 – 7 and Justin McKoy was 4 – 6. That UNC struggled from the line – 12 for 22 – just highlights the Cavs success at the line.

 

Positive

Tony Bennett. With 1:19 left in the first half, and the ball in our hands following a Clark steal, Bennett actually called a timeout to design a play. He rarely does this, and I’ve been frustrated over the years over the team’s failure to get more than some guard going 1 on 3 in the closing seconds of the half, all while there are multiple timeouts available. On this night, Tomas Woldetensae drilled a 3.  Then, when Bennett was being interviewed by the courtside reporter, his only comment (when asked about our struggle to score) was: “This is who we are.”  And he left.  Bennett is normally one of the courtlier coaches in the game, so this brusqueness was out of character. He clearly wanted to get into the locker room.  Whatever he said resonated, because the team was sharper with the ball and had no turnovers, after having committed 13 in the first half.

 

Negative

Jay Huff missed all four of his shots and played only 14 minutes…

 

Positive 

… largely because of the play of Francisco Caffaro who had 10 points on 4 -5 shooting in just 231 minutes. Huff got the start but Caffaro closed the game. He was energetic and he banged UNC inside. He struggled at the line (2 – 5) but he was better than Bacot (1 – 6).

 

Negative

Carolina refs. Even in the JPJ, UNC has overly friendly refs. At least three times Armando Bacot put his forearm in the chest of a UVa player. One of those times Diakite was called for the foul.

 

Positive

Baby steps. For the first time all season, both Kody Stattmann and Woldetensae looked like they belonged at this level. They still have a long way to go, mind you, but Woldetensae made 3 of 4 threes and played active defense. He’s still a step slow and the least proficient of the wing defenders, but he has sneaky good hands in the Ty Jerome mold. He could be very useful if he can just make a couple threes a game. McKoy also brings a certain energy to the floor, dare I say it, kind of like Justin Anderson in his first year. After the collective no-show vs Purdue, McKoy’s hustle was most welcome.

 

Positive

Going 6 for 17 from 3 is not great, but it is much better than we’ve been shooting.  At the nine-minute mark in the first half, UVa lead 6 – 5. You read that right. But then, Casey Morsell and Woldetensae made back to back threes (this may have been a first on the year), the lead ballooned to 7 points and Carolina never lead in the game. With our defense, we don’t have to score a lot. We just need to shoot at this clip.

 

Positive

Clark had a rough first half. It was really bad.  He drove too far into the lane so that one layup hit the underside of the backboard. He had a nice steal and was going in for the layup and had the ball hit his knee. He had three turnovers, two of them head-scratchingly bad. But you ever seenTom Brady suck in the first half, and come out in the second looking like he’s playing against high schoolers?  Me too. This was Clark tonight. He continued to run the offense, didn’t have a single turnover in the second half and made the two best plays on the night. On the first, with Virginia up by 10, Clark smelled blood and went straight to Caffaro (who had scored 4 straight points to build this bulge) with a brilliant hesitation dribble and no-look entry pass to a wide-open Caffaro.  Then a minute later, Anthony made a steal, and he probably thought he had easy roll to the hoop.  He is 6+ inches taller than Clark.  Then this happened:

The fat lady could sing. Red Auerbach could light his stogie.  Whatever basketball metaphor you want to use...  Doesn’t matter. With that steal, the game was over. Done and dusted. Courtesy of the Mong00se

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North Carolina (Basketball(M), December 8, 2019)