Rushed Reactions: #10 Virginia 70, #14 West Virginia 54

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 8th, 2015

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Three Key Takeaways.

  1. “Press Virginia”. Bob Huggins’ athletic group of Mountaineers imposed their style of play from the opening tip, forcing Virginia into 11 first half turnovers. The Cavaliers came into the game averaging only 7.3 turnovers per game, best in the country. It was amazing to watch West Virginia make Virginia look like an awful ball handling team. Even when the Cavs were able to get the ball over half court, the hectic pace still forced them into a number of mistakes. West Virginia certainly came prepared on both ends of the floor, but Virginia’s discipline and experience took control after halftime, as the Cavaliers finally looked like themselves. It’s the mark of a great team when it can look completely overmatched in the first half of the game but make the proper changes and go on to dominate the second frame. The halftime adjustments made by Virginia’s experienced backcourt is the main reason the Cavaliers prevailed.
  2. Virginia has a handful of great players but London Perrantes may be the most important. The junior guard was shut out in the first half tonight in his first game back after recovering from an appendectomy, but Perrantes was the Cavalier catalyst in the second half. College basketball is a guard’s game and Perrantes is one of the finest point men in all the land. He does an incredible job running the team on the floor and makes it look effortless — almost as if he never breaks a sweat while working hard. His strengths go beyond his poise, however. Perrantes is a sniper from beyond the arc, and it was his trey from the left wing with 4:38 to play that pretty much salted this game away. Perrantes totaled 13 second half points while assisting on three UVA buckets. Tony Bennett is happy to have him back.
  3. The pack-line stood tall in the end. After surrendering 24 points in the paint to West Virginia in the first half, Virginia constructed a fortress around the basket after halftime. The Mountaineers managed only 10 points in the paint after halftime (and just 18 total for the half) in a game that was quite clearly a tale of two halves. UVA did a good job containing Devin Williams offensively (18.7 PPG on the season, just 10 tonight) while also limiting him to just three rebounds. Virginia as a team controlled the glass (+5 in rebound margin) — an incredibly important task against any Bob Huggins team.
Anthony Gill's 15 Point, 8 Rebound First Half Kept Virginia Close (Photo: USAT Sports)

Anthony Gill’s 15 Point, 8 Rebound First Half Kept Virginia Close Early (Photo: USAT Sports)

Star of the Game: Anthony Gill, Virginia. Gill kept his team afloat during a difficult first half, scoring 15 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting. For the game, he totaled 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, his first double-double of the season. While Perrantes highlighted the second half, Gill was the one constant on the floor for the Cavaliers. His leadership and energy were crucial in Virginia’s efforts to keep the game close early on, giving the Cavs the chance to eventually turn it around and take control in the second half.

Quotable:

  • “We were shaky to start, everybody was.” – Virginia head coach Tony Bennett on his team encountering West Virginia’s unique style of play
  • “We can’t make it like what West Virginia does in practice.” – Bennett on preparing for the Mountaineers in practice earlier this week
  • “Either you’re going to respond or not. You all know the deal.” – Bennett on challenging his team after a difficult first half
  • “Hopefully it’ll get to a better spot. It needs to.” – Bennett on the rule changes and officiating in college basketball this season (clearly choosing his words carefully)
  • “We can’t force people to commit 19 turnovers and turn it over 18 times ourself. It’s bad math.” – West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins on not taking advantage of his team’s style of play
  • “I can’t imagine we’re as bad as we are. ” – Huggins on his team’s shooting woes

Sights and Sounds: It was a late arriving crowd at Madison Square Garden tonight as the matchup in the second game of the Jimmy V. Classic between Maryland and Connecticut should bring out the bulk of tonight’s attendance. Still, both teams had a presence in the crowd. The Virginia band added some energy to what was a relatively mild audience for the majority of the evening.

What’s Next: Virginia’s non-conference slate doesn’t get any easier as it welcomes Villanova to John Paul Jones Arena next Saturday. The Cavaliers will use the next 11 days to rest up, complete final exams and get ready for another quality matchup with the Wildcats. West Virginia’s non-conference schedule lightens up considerably from here as the Mountaineers return home to Morgantown for a Sunday matchup with Louisiana-Monroe, followed by an in-state rivalry game with Marshall in Charleston, WV the following Thursday.

Brian Otskey (268 Posts)


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