No. 9 Virginia gobbles up Virginia Tech, 71-48
Men’s basketball moves up in conference standings with a victory over in-state rival
No. 9 Virginia dismantled its in-state rival Virginia Tech, 71-48, in a Wednesday night showdown. The Cavaliers (17-4, 7-2 ACC) showed off their defensive prowess against the Hokies (16-6, 5-5 ACC) and added a solid victory to their tough ACC schedule.
“The ACC is so competitive,” coach Tony Bennett said. “You have to be ready. You have to be ready at home. I talked about collectively being as competitive and playing to win at the best of our ability, because if you don’t, you’ll be in trouble. Every game we play from here on out is highly-charged.”
The Cavaliers certainly came out highly-charged and ready to play. Virginia started off hot with a 10-0 run to open play against Virginia Tech and get the packed crowd roaring at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers held the Hokies to 21 points and just 27.8 percent field goal shooting in the first half. Virginia forced the Hokies to commit seven turnovers, and went into the intermission leading 35-21.
“I think just being intentional about getting back is something we’ve worked on and something coach preaches,” junior guard Devon Hall said. “So being intentional about sending three guys back and two to the glass was really big for us.”
Virginia and Virginia Tech exchanged a series of back-to-back three-pointers to open up the second half before their respective defenses seemed to find their rhythm. The Cavaliers stayed on top with the combined offensive spark of Hall and junior forward Isaiah Wilkins. At the under 16 timeout, Hall had recorded 14 points, while Wilkins had tallied 13 points and failed to miss a shot — going 12 for 12 in his last two games combined. Wilkins’ 12-consecutive made baskets tied a Virginia school record set in the 1977-78 season by guard Bobby Stokes.
Both Wilkins and Hall reached their career-high point totals by the final blow of the whistle. Wilkins finished with 15 points and Hall recorded 17 points to lead the Cavaliers. Both juniors also grabbed nine rebounds apiece, and each player was just one rebound away from earning a double-double.
When asked in the post-game press conference if his aunt had texted him to inform him that he was just one rebound away from such a feat, Hall reacted in surprise.
“Was I again?” Hall said. “No, I haven’t even looked at my phone yet ... I’m sure she might’ve.”
Senior point guard London Perrantes followed closely behind his teammates with 14 points, and junior guard Marial Shayok chipped into the scoring effort with nine points of his own.
“I felt like I just needed to be aggressive and I just wanted to get to the paint,” Perrantes said. “So these last couple of days. I’ve been working on the mid-range jump shot a little bit more. I wanted to be in attack mode, and I got some open looks.”
Virginia used those open looks to go on a 9-0 run to stretch their lead in the second half. The Cavaliers led by as many as 26 points in the second half when they reached a 67-43 lead with just under two minutes left in the game. Virginia dominated the Hokies on both sides of the ball, and they took away any Hokie hope at second chances by out-rebounding Virginia Tech, 37-22. The Cavaliers ultimately let time expire to finish with a 71-48 victory.
Virginia got the chance to showcase Bennett’s packline defense as it held Virginia Tech to 48 points, which was good for its lowest-scoring game of the 2016-17 season. The Hokies’ next lowest-scoring contest came in a 62-61 win over Georgia Tech. Overall, the Cavaliers managed to keep Virginia Tech to just 35.7 percent field goal shooting. The Hokies only managed to cash in on three out of 20 three-point attempts, and committed 14 turnovers over the course of the game.
“I think that’s how [Virginia] plays,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. “Twenty two percent of the time we gave the ball to them without a shot, and that’s mathematically incredibly hard to overcome.”
Senior guard Seth Allen led the Hokies in scoring with 14 points, and the only other Virginia Tech player to reach double digits was senior forward Zach LeDay, who scored 12 points.
The Cavaliers now have just two days to prepare for their next matchup. Virginia will hit the road again and travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange (14-9, 6-4 ACC) Saturday at noon.