Rushed Reactions: #5 Virginia 76, #12 UNC-Wilmington 71

Posted by Walker Carey on March 16th, 2017

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) is in Orlando this weekend.

London Perrantes Led His Team to a First Round Victory Today (USA Today Images)

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. London Perrantes took over the game after UNC-Wilmington’s hot start. Virginia got off to a slow start this afternoon. After UNC-Wilmington guard Denzel Ingram knocked down a three with 7:25 to play in the first half to build a 26-11 lead, it looked as if the Cavaliers were primed to become the first upset victim of this NCAA Tournament. That turned out not to be the case, though, as Virginia clamped down defensively and made enough big shots to advance to the next round. A major reason for the change in fortune was senior point guard London Perrantes, who grabbed control of the game and made big play after big play to ensure his collegiate career didn’t end today. A theme throughout NCAA Tournament history has been that veteran guard play is very important in determining who moves on and who goes home. If that continues this year, look for Perrantes to lead Virginia deep into the bracket.
  2. While Perrantes was Virginia’s most valuable player, Marial Shayok’s scoring outburst was essential to the winning effort. It quickly became apparent in the second half that UNC-Wilmington was not going to fade away and allow Virginia to coast to the easy victory. The Cavaliers were going to need to score to emerge with the win. To get those points, they turned to junior forward Marial Shayok, who turned in a career-best performance of 23 points (8-of-14 FG, 3-of-5 3FG). Tony Bennett’s teams have a well-earned reputation for comfort with slow-paced games played in the 50s or 60s. With UNC-Wilmington mostly dictating the pace today, Shayok led the scoring charge necessary to get to the Second Round.
  3. How much longer will Kevin Keatts be at UNC-Wilmington? Even with today’s result, it is difficult to not to be impressed with what Kevin Keatts has built at UNC-Wilmington. The Seahawks have won 72 games over the last three seasons, and both of their NCAA Tournament losses – this afternoon’s defeat along with last year’s eight-point loss to Duke – have been closely contested games. That much success makes it reasonable to question how long Keatts will remain at the helm in southeastern North Carolina. Successful mid-major coaches are poached by high-majors every spring, and with several good jobs already open, it is safe to assume his name will be brought up in at least a few conversations. It will be interesting to watch where Keatts opens the 2017-18 season.

Player of the Game. London Perrantes, Virginia. The Cavaliers needed their senior point guard to step up and he responded in a big way today. Perrantes finished the game with 24 points (9-of-14 FG and 2-of-4 3FG), only committed one turnover in 33 minutes, and was part of a defensive attack that held UNC-Wilmington to just 28.6 percent shooting from behind the arc in the second half. It also seemed like whenever Virginia needs someone to make a play, it was Perrantes who came through with the winning effort.


  • “That is March Madness. The way were down and fought back. That is what it is.” – Virginia coach Tony Bennett, when asked if he felt any pressure when his team fell into a 15-point first half hole.
  • “There is not a team in the ACC that is like [UNC-Wilmington]. That was unique from what we have seen all year.” – Bennett, noting that the Seahawks played an unfamiliar style of basketball.
  • “I thought we made those guys [Virginia] adjust to us. I thought our offensive plan was great.” – UNC-Wilmington coach Kevin Keatts, acknowledging how his squad was able to get off to a fast start.
  • “They single-handedly turned this program around. We are a championship program now.” – Keatts, reflecting on what his senior class has meant to the UNC-Wilmington program.

Sights and Sounds. While Virginia won the game on the floor, UNC-Wilmington definitely had the advantage when it came to crowd noise. Seahawk fans were boisterous as their team built the early lead, supportive as Virginia fought back and regained the lead, and on edge as their team’s effort came up a bit short in the end. It is safe to assume that official Karl Hess will not be receiving a holiday card from any UNC-Wilmington fans this winter.

What’s Next. Virginia advances to the Second Round on Saturday where it will face the winner of Florida and East Tennessee State.

WCarey (274 Posts)

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