No. 6 men’s basketball comes back against Ohio State to win, 63-61
Perrantes helps Cavaliers overcome slow first half with 19 points
The crowd in John Paul Jones Arena was roaring late into the night Wednesday as No. 6 Virginia overcame a slow first half, in which they trailed by as many as 16 points, to beat Ohio State, 63-61.
The Cavaliers (7-0) had trouble getting things going offensively, shooting just 28.6 percent in the first half. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes (6-1) shot 54.5 percent in the first nine minutes to go ahead 14-9.
“We have played some solid basketball, but we cannot afford a sleepy start,” coach Tony Bennett said. “This team can't do that. The message is: be ready.”
Virginia saw a bit of a spark offensively when junior guard Marial Shayok upped the tempo for the Cavaliers with his second field goal of the game to cut the Buckeyes lead to 14-11. However, Ohio State tacked on more points while stifling Virginia’s offense, jumping out to a 22-11 lead before freshman guard Ty Jerome checked in and hit a quick three to pull the Cavaliers closer at 22-14.
It wasn’t enough, though, as Ohio State managed to keep the Cavaliers’ offense at bay and continue adding on points, extending their lead to 32-16 with 3:44 left in the half. Junior forward Jae’Sean Tate led the Buckeyes with 14 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore forward JaQuan Lyle followed closely behind with 12 points.
“We just had a pretty direct conversation with all of them, and what we stand for, what we built our program on, how it has to be, and not to kid ourselves,” Bennett said. “They were all challenged.”
However, after entering the intermission trailing by 12 points, the Cavaliers were able to regroup and become just the second team to rally from a 15-point deficit against Ohio State since 2005. Under coach Thad Matta, the Buckeyes were previously 241-1 when leading a team by 15 points.
Virginia started off the second half with a revamped defense, forcing Ohio State to commit a shot clock violation. Over the next three minutes, a scoring flurry brought the score to 36-32, launching JPJ into absolute pandemonium.
“I thought they responded,” Bennett said. “It was really quick how they came out… Boy, I thought we closed that gap really quick.”
Junior guard Devon Hall added on a layup en route to tallying 12 points for the Cavaliers, then pulled off a long three-pointer to bring Virginia within one point, 36-35, and extend their second half run to 11-0.
“I think for me it was being assertive and aggressive and staying confident,” Hall said. “Being able to step up was big for me tonight, and it helped my confidence.”
The Cavaliers also came into the half with a reinvigorated senior point guard, London Perrantes, who led the team in scoring with 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half alone. He gave Virginia its first lead with a jumper to make the score 39-38. The Buckeyes answered with a three-pointer to jump back out the lead, and extended it once again to 50-42 with 9:49 left in the game before Perrantes provided a spark with a long three to make the score 50-45.
“I knew I wasn’t playing to the best of my ability or even close, and I felt like that was hurting my team. I was on myself about it and I’m glad [Bennett] got on me,” Perrantes said. “That’s the most I’ve gotten ripped by him since I’ve been here, and it sparked us all just knowing that I can respond to something like that.”
Bennett’s halftime advice worked. Virginia fought back against the Buckeyes, culminating in Perrantes’ fourth three-pointer of the night to tie the score at 55 each. The game was once again knotted at 57 with just under two minutes to play when Shayok gave the Cavaliers just their second lead of the night at 59-57, a lead they did not surrender for the remainder of the game.
Virginia forced the Buckeyes to commit 20 turnovers throughout the game, and it was a turnover with just 22.6 seconds left in the game that sealed their fate. On the ensuing possession, junior forward Isaiah Wilkins came up with an emphatic dunk to put Virginia up 63-59 with just 17 seconds left. The dramatic ending continued, however, when Lyle was fouled and made both foul shots to cut into Virginia’s lead, 63-61.
“The crowd was terrific,” Bennett said. “That's as good as it gets. One of the best I've heard.”
With just six and a half seconds in the game, and tensions high in JPJ, the Cavalier defense held on, as Ohio State missed a three-pointer as time expired, securing the come-from-behind 63-61 victory for Virginia.
The Cavaliers will try to carry their momentum into their next matchup Saturday against West Virginia.