No. 20 Cavaliers win sixth straight, 77-67
Brogdon has 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists as Virginia moves to 9-1 in ACC
Coming off an emotional win against No. 25 Pittsburgh, the No. 20 Virginia men’s basketball team faced a possible letdown game against Boston College Wednesday night. A late Eagles rally cut a 21-point lead to just six with less than a minute to play, but the Cavaliers hung on for a 77-67 win.
Redshirt sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon had 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists — his first career double-double — to lead the Cavaliers, who won their sixth straight game and their ninth conference game overall. Despite the shaky ending, the game proved relatively easy for Virginia, which led by double digits for the majority of play.
“Forty-six percent of [Boston College’s] shots are threes, and you always have to be ready, because they spread you with four guards and run a ball-screen,” coach Tony Bennett said. “… We were pretty sharp at it the majority of the game, but then at the end when they started to dribble hand-off …That was discouraging because in the time-outs, we were saying finish strong defensively. A couple more stops and we’d be in a good spot and we could not do that.”
Boston College (6-16, 2-7 ACC) came out of the gate fast only to quickly fade. The Eagles took a 3-2 lead with just more than a minute into the game, but Virginia (18-5, 9-1 ACC) promptly went on an 18-2 run to go up 20-5 and seize control. Boston College would not lead again.
Brogdon paced the team early on, scoring nine points in the first half to share the team lead with fellow sophomore guard Justin Anderson. Brogdon has been stellar since ACC play began, scoring in double digits in each of the team’s 10 conference games. Virginia led 40-21 at halftime, looking as dominant as they have for the past two weeks.
“I feel like we came out ready to play,” Brogdon said. “We played pretty well, but not really well. We did not play our best basketball tonight, but we played well enough to win the game by a considerable amount, if we hadn’t let up at the end.”
Brogdon finished the game just three assists short of a triple-double and has recently taken the mantle from senior guard Joe Harris as the team’s leading scorer. His emergence as a potent offensive threat has both changed the complexity of the Cavalier attack and taken pressure off of Harris. To Brogdon’s teammates, his talented play has not come as a surprise.
“He is a winner,” Anderson said. “He can do everything: he can run the ball, pass the ball, score. His ball handling is great, and his hands are massive. He has a tremendous feel for the game, control over the ball, and his defense is getting better every game.”
Virginia extended their lead early in the second half, going up by more than 20 points on an ACC opponent for the seventh time in the team’s nine wins. Boston College’s defense is among the worst in the conference — the Eagles had given up an average of 75 points per game entering Wednesday, the highest in the ACC — and Virginia worked to exploit this weakness, shooting 48.2 percent in the game.
The game’s second half was littered with fouls: three players fouled out between the teams and two others had four fouls. Fifty-one total fouls were called in the game, 23 on Virginia and 28 on Boston College. Both Harris and sophomore center Mike Tobey picked up two fouls early, and were subsequently limited in minutes. Harris played 22 minutes, while Tobey played just seven.
Foul trouble forced Virginia to rely on their bench players, who readily stepped up. Sophomore forwards Anthony Gill and Evan Nolte both had solid games, scoring 13 and nine points respectively. Nolte especially has seen his minutes cut lately, and he was happy to see increased play.
“I’m just trying to come off the bench and do what I can for the team,” Nolte said. “It’s pretty difficult if you’re sitting for 30 minutes to come into the game, but you just try to stay ready. You just try to have in your head that you shoot every shot the same, and if you come in a little cold you try to not shoot your first catch, but try to get rhythm and get a couple passes.”
Up 71-52 with 4:47 to play in the second half, Virginia looked primed to cruise to another huge win, but a 15-2 run by the Eagles cut the game to just six points at 73-67. Boston College forced its way back on the strength of its three-point shooting — the Eagles were just 2-12 from behind the arc in the first half, but improved to 7-for-15 after the break.
“Boston College did a good job, and their coach did a good job,” Bennett said. “Those guys kept fighting, and they’re dangerous because they’re so spread out. It shouldn’t have gotten to that place if we had taken care of business, but it did. We kind of managed to get the right guys to the line at the end.”
Virginia would seal the game with four free throws to win 77-67 and continue their stunning ACC success. The Cavaliers’ 9-1 ACC start is the team’s best since 1981-82, and the win was the team’s 14th straight ACC home win, the second-longest such streak in team history.
The team now heads to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Brogdon and Nolte — both of whom hail from Georgia — but also a chance to continue the team’s stellar play.
“I’m glad to go home,” Brogdon said. “I didn’t play there last year — I was sitting out. I played there my freshman year [and] it was a good experience. I just want to go there and win, though. Nothing changes.”