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On a night when NC State would clobber Duke, Virginia had a chance to gain ground on the ACC leaders. But first, the Cavaliers had to best Boston College, a team that had embarrassed us 6 weeks earlier in Chestnut Hill.  How would Virginia fare in the rematch?

 

Boston College65
Virginia78

 

 

Positive

A win is a win is a win, after all. Only for this game, it was the offense that provided the difference. All five starters scored in double figures; a feat probably not accomplished since before Jack Salt roamed the hardwood. Virginia opened a 12-point halftime lead, and while BC had a couple of mini runs in the second half, the game was never in doubt in the second half.  And when was the last time that Virginia could say that?

Positive

3-point shooting.  After an abysmal start to the season, and one that had continued well into the ACC portion of the season, the Hoos have come alive from beyond the arc. Just as in the last five games, it all starts with Tomas Woldetensae who was 4 – 8. This was huge because all of Woldetensae’s prior 3-point eruptions to date have occurred on the road:  7 – 15 at Wake Forest, 10 for 13 at Louisville, and at UNC, Woldetensae recorded a 6 – 12 night. Jay Huff had a strong start to the game, going 3 – 5 in the first half while Kody Stattmann picked up the slack in the second half going 2 – 3.  Kihei Clark got into the action with a three that was actually an off-target lob attempt to Huff.  UVa was 7 – 12 in the first half and ended up 10 – 17 for the game.

Positive

Jay Heath.  OK, this is for Boston College, but man o man, is Heath fun to watch. He had another complete game against Virginia, scoring 18 points. He doesn’t so much as attack the rim as attack the restricted area arc and he finishes with aplomb. He’s going to be a lot of fun for BC fans and neutral observers to watch over the remainder of his career. I daresay that Heath is the kind of ballplayer we thought we were getting in Casey Morsell…

Negative

Casey Morsell.  Casey had one of his finer games for Virginia against UNC but he succumbed to the Inverted Texas Two-Step.  He logged 15 mostly-anonymous minutes and he took just one shot, a long two which was more fadeaway than anything else. He rolled his ankle in the second half and exited the game and it was a perfect metaphor for this young man’s struggles.

Positive

Braxton Key:  Point Forward.  Clark picked up his second foul at the 3:55 mark in the first half, and since Coach Bennett adheres strictly to a two-fouls-and-you’re-out philosophy in the first half, Clark sat down for the remainder of the half. Clark was replaced not by Morsell or Chase Coleman, but by Key, who’s play sparked a surge from the Cavaliers as they increased a 25 – 19 lead to a more comfortable 35 – 23 margin at the half.  Key had three assists, two rebounds and a very nice drive to the bucket.  BC was pretty efficient in the second half, torching the Pack Line for 42 points. But the damage was done and the victory was essentially secured with Key running the point.

Positive

Free throws.  There were very few fouls in the first half.  BC only committed a single foul, but it was a shooting foul and Mamadi Diakite sank both his free throws.  The second half was a different story as Huff, Diakite and Key pounded the ball down low and the Cavs were rewarded by getting into the bonus by the 14 minute mark and then the double bonus just three minutes later.  I could nitpick about Huff, Diakite and Key, who did miss 3 free throws down the stretch, but overall Virginia was a very respectable 16 – 22 from the stripe, while Boston College was just 1 – 2.  So, on a night when the Cavaliers did shoot 58% from three, it was actually the free throw disparity that provided the margin of victory.

Negative

42 second half points.  Sure, we scored 43 points in the second half, but this was the second time in four games that we’ve surrendered so many points in a half.  The aforementioned trio of Huff, Diakite and Key did account for 9 blocks, but they lost the offensive board battle on the night and Boston College pretty much picked the Pack Line apart.

Positive

Kihei’s second half.  Clark put on a master class of point guard play in the second half as he scored 14 of his 17 points in the second frame, had five assists, went 4 – 4 from the line, and shredded the BC defense.  I put a stopwatch on Clark after Seattle Hoo’s and my conversation in the last podcast.  In the final 11:03, the ball was in Clark’s hands, actually in his hands, for well over 3 ½ minutes. One third of all the ticks of the clock the ball is in Kihei’s hands.  Amazing. He’s delivering a tour-de-force of a season for the Cavaliers.