Three Men And a Guy
The Senior Focus almost IS the story of this game. The three seniors were the central figures in UVA's domination of Davidson, combining for 50 points, 16 rebounds, 9 assists, 9 forced turnovers, and committing just 5 turnovers themselves (one of Devon's turnovers was a sophomore not coming to the ball on an inbounds pass). Isaiah Wilkins and Nigel Johnson took the lead in a defensive effort that held Davidson to below its season averages in three point attempts and percentage and forced the Wildcats into an uncharacteristic plethora of turnovers, many of the deadly live ball variety. Johnson and Devon Hall led the offense with 22 and 20 points, combining for 14-22 from the floor, 7-10 from three, and 7-8 from the FT line!
It was largely the seniors who staked Virginia to a 63-49 lead, at which point sophomore Kyle Guy took over, pouring in 11 of Virginia's last 17 points in a little over three-and-a-half minutes. Guy finished with 19 points. They did it with defense and penetration. The defense led to a number of transition opportunities, and the dribble penetration powered the offense.
It was a slow start, however, as Davidson had the range early and the Hoos mostly settled for jump shots. As often happens, the early jumpers did not fall and the offense sputtered out of the gate. It was only when they penetrated that they scored, with UVA's first three baskets - spread out over 7:00 - all resulting from Devon Driving Downhill - one of those triple-Ds of which we are so fond. The next basket, Johnson's first three, came off of De'Andre Hunter putting the ball on the floor and drawing defensive attention. Of Virginia's first 26 points, only three (Guy's lone first half 3FG) did not result from dribble penetration either in the halfcourt or transition.
Once Virginia began attacking the paint consistently, Davidson had no answer. After taking 7 minutes to score its first 6 points, Virginia went on to pour in 74 more over the last 33 minutes of action.
On the other end of the floor, the Hoos were aggressive on the perimeter, denying Davidson the space to hit threes and disrupting the pass lanes. With rim protection and the Wildcats not being a proficient dribble drive team, defending them the way opponents defend us made sense. And it worked. One of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the nation was held to 30% shooting, and one of the few teams in the nation more careful than UVA about turnovers coughed it up 13 times. It was only occasional breakdowns in rotation or transition defense that gave Davidson decent looks. Three of Davidson's 8 three-pointers - all three of leading scorer Peyton Aldridge's makes - came when the relatively inexperienced Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff left their men on ill-advised and/or poorly-executed expeditions to help. Davidson is one of those teams that forces a defense to be eternally vigilant and sometimes fight its own defensive instincts.
The unsung defensive hero of the game was Guy, who had primary responsibility for star Davidson freshman Kellan Grady. Guy hounded Grady all over the court, denying him catches and when he did touch the ball giving him no space to do anything with it. Grady averaged almost 14ppg on over 12 field goal attempts per contest coming into this game, and could only manage to get off 5 shots, hitting 1 for 3 points. With Grady and fellow backcourt sniper Jon Axel Gudmundsson held to 2-10 from the arc, Aldridge was denied the scoring support needed to truly make a game of this contest.
Finally, the careful second watch once again changed my evaluation of Ty Jerome's game. Initially I felt like it was maybe his worst game of the season and a deepening of this so-called "slump." He made a terrible first impression by not coming strong to the inbounds pass that allowed Gudmundsson to dart in front and take it for a layup, just as he made against West Virginia early in each half. The box score says he had 0 turnovers, but that one is 100% on Ty and it set a lens in front of my eyes for the rest of the game. Truth is, other than that one play, he did not play poorly. He lost one back door cutter but was otherwise solid on defense in support of Devon and Kyle covering the Davidson perimeter players. The lack of production from Davidson's guards in the halfcourt is testament to a team effort of which Ty was a big part.
On offense, he still isn't hitting his long shots in the JPJ, but he was solid with the ball and drove into the lane to make plays. On what originally looked like two weird shots, replay showed that as Ty read the help from Aldridge and started to pass to our big man, Aldridge read Ty and retreated to cover the pass. Ty read the adjustment and rather than try to force a pass that likely would have been intercepted, he put up the shot. Good, clever defense by Aldridge and valid decisions in adjustment by Ty. On one of the plays, Zay rebounded the miss.
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