No Flyer Zone
The Cavaliers did not start the game looking like a well-oiled machine this time; instead they looked more like a broken down old tractor fixed up with parts scrounged from other discarded machinery on the farm. But they got it running after some sputters and it got the job done. Dayton was fresh off taking down Big East Butler by out-toughing them, and they came into this one believing they could do the same to the ACC team. And why not? They held Virginia scoreless for the first five minutes while a pair of offensive rebounds and a nasty stepback three staked them to a 7-0 lead. The Hoos missed four three-pointers and three layups before Kyle Guy pulled up behind a Braxton Key ball screen and fired up a three. When it went through the net, Virginia trailed by only 4 despite the five minutes of futility.
Once the Hoos got that old machine running, it plowed over everything in its path. Slowly, methodically, row-by-row, the Virginia offense ground back into the game until the Cavaliers seized their first lead at 18-17 with just under six minutes left in the first half on an offensive rebound and layup by De'Andre Hunter. Dre's putback was in the midst of a 6-0 stretch that gave Virginia the initiative. A pair of free throws by Guy gave the Hoos a three-point lead, and after Dayton tied the game on a Josh Cunningham layup with 2:26 remaining, Virginia popped off seven straight in slightly over a minute to seize control for good. Another Hunter putback and a jumper by Guy sandwiched a Kihei Clark three-pointer in the run.
The rest of the game was a tug-of-war between Virginia trying to blow the game open and Dayton fighting to stay alive. The Flyers bracketed halftime with four second-chance points on offensive rebounds by Cunningham and Trey Landers to cut the lead to three, but they could get no closer, and five straight points by Ty Jerome pushed the lead out to eight. The Hoos could not get it into double-digits, and the Flyers could not get closer than two possessions. The second half was a veritable shootout, as neither team could keep the other out of the lane. Dayton's bigs, Cunningham and 6-9, 220 pound redshirt freshman Obi Toppin (remember that name, you will hear it more in the next few years), combined for 19 points in the half, while Virginia's Big Three stepped up with 35 of Virginia's 39 second-half points.
Jerome led the Cavaliers with 15 points, charging into the lane time and again, getting to the line, where he shot 10 free throws. Hunter did most of his damage inside, but it was his last-second - literally - three-pointer that finally put the Flyers on the ground. He had 13 of his game high 23 points in this half. Guy chipped in 7 points on 3-5 shooting.
This game was a statistical anomaly for a Virginia win and a good sign for the future, because it shows the team is capable of winning different kinds of games. Dayton may only be #97 in Kenpom, but this is a meaningful result because the Flyers are better than that.
The Hoos won a game where they were unable to stop the other team. Dayton shot 54% for the game and scored 36 points in the paint. The two big men - Cunningham and Toppin - combined for 28 points on 12-15 shooting. That usually portends a Virginia loss - especially when the opposing team rebounds over 40% of its misses (9/21 FGs) as Dayton did in this game.
How did the Hoos do it? Offensive rebounding and free throws. The Hoos rebounded roughly 50% of their misses (14/28 FGs) and had 14 more FT attempts than their opponent. Only 6 of UVA's 22 free throw attempts were end of game.
Virginia won the game with its offense - and in particular its dribble drive and second chance offense. It is not often that Virginia's offense (32:24) is more successful than its defense (28:27 with only 3 Gaps) in a win, or that Virginia has such a low Glue score. The team Glue Index was only 31 for this game, with the individual high being 9 by Braxton Key. As a reference, the team Glue Index was 80 the next day against Wisconsin, with 5 players having at least 9 GI. With only 2 Boxouts and 1 RebA for the game, Virginia did not have a statistically good defensive performance.
- Dayton was excellent preparation for Wisconsin and for the remainder of the season. That team is going to be a tournament team if they keep playing with the moxie and organization they showed against Butler and UVA. They ran good stuff, they defended hard, and they went to the glass. They have a very strong trio of Cunningham, Toppin and Jalen Crutcher, who get good support from several other players. The Flyers definitely are a team to watch.
- De'Andre Hunter tallied 8 of his 23 points on offensive putbacks. His scoring profile shows what I saw on video: We're not running anything for him, not seeking opportunities to isolate him. In addition to the 8 points on putbacks, 4 of his points came in transition and 4 more on post-ups.
- Jay Huff was on the floor as Virginia grabbed the initiative in the contest.
- As the statistics above make clear, interior defense is a concern coming out of this game.
- Offensive diversity in the first half gave way to a steady dose of Sides in the second. Take away the first five minutes of the game when the Hoos went 0-7 from the floor, and they were consistently efficient, hitting 10-20 in the last 15 minutes of the first half for a 1.8 PPM rate (27 points in 15 minutes). Of the 27 points, 5 came off ball screens, 6 from offensive rebounds (4/2 Sides/Spread), 3 against the zone, 2 in transition, 4 out of the spread motion offense and 3 on a DDD out of Sides and 4 on Sides motion. In the second half, Sides (18) and offensive rebounds (9 - all Sides) accounted for 27 of the 32 points against Dayton's man-to-man defense.
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