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In Virginia's last P5 non-conference game of this first 20-conference-games season, the South Carolina Gamecocks made their return visit to the JPJ.  In his preview, StLouHoo set out his three "Keys to getting the win:"

1) Ball security.

2) Defend the glass.

3) Be aggressive in the paint.

In essence, he is saying "play our game." Two of the first, if not the first, non-negotiable pillars of Bennettball are 1) don't turn the ball over and 2) don't give up offensive rebounds. South Carolina feeds off the things we prioritize avoiding, so succeeding on those pillars probably means shutting down the Gamecocks. The third Key is the one where the Hoos often lose focus.

So how did we do:

1) Ball security.

Turnovers have been an uncharacteristic issue for this team. It is to be expected, I suppose, from a team with young and/or inexperienced ball handlers. But to this level? The Cavaliers had 19 turnovers, and the point guard had 7 of them. We had more turnovers than baskets and the point guard had as many turnovers as shots. We were terrible. What I saw was a team that was not mentally ready for the intensity of the opponent's defense, that could not get open and that consistently found itself in tough situations and panicked. The turnovers were the #1 factor in this game.

Grade: F-

2) Defend the glass.

In pretty much every Virginia game, if the Hoos have won, they probably gave up less than 25% offensive rebounding to the opposition. Well, in this one, we gave up less than 25% offensive rebounding, but it didn't matter, because we didn'tmake them miss often enough. Offensive rebounding is not much of a factor when you hit 55% of your shots. Between all the fast breaks our turnovers gave them and their entire team channeling an NBA team's shooting ability for one game (largely because we kept giving them good shots, our defensive intensity was lacking, and our 5-9 point guard might as well not have been on the floor for as much as he bothered his man's shot), they didn't need offensive rebounds. And the Hoos actually shot pretty well (43% overall and 33% on threes), so there were not a lot of rebounds to be had. I am going to grade this factor down because 1) it really was not a big part of the outcome and 2) Some of the offensive rebounds they DID get came early while they were punching our legs to rubber and should have been avoided.

Grade: B

3) Be aggressive in the paint.

Bennett's Virginia teams often seem to fall in love with the jumper, being happy to pass the ball around the perimeter, maybe take one dribble, and launch up what feels like a good shot. The Hoos typically drive to avoid contact. With a poor shooting team like this one, those tendencies can be fatal. Against a defense like South Carolina's, they probably would be fatal. I would say that we tried to be aggressive in the paint, and it resulted in a lot of turnovers. On the positive side, we got 20 points in the paint and shot 22 free throws. We also rebounded 28% of our misses, which is pretty decent. BUT, it was not enough to overcome the turnovers.

Grade: B+