No. 5 men’s basketball suffered its first defeat of the season Wednesday night, falling to Purdue 69-40. The Cavaliers (7-1, 1-0 ACC) had an abysmal shooting night, shooting just 37 percent from the field, while the Boilermakers (5-3, 0-0 Big Ten) caught fire from the three-point arc, sinking 52 percent of their attempts from deep.
The first-half started off quickly for Virginia, as the Cavaliers won the opening tip-off and junior forward Jay Huff immediately hit a three-pointer. However, Purdue would embark on an 11-2 run for the next 4:34, powered by nine points from sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic. Stefanovic was outstanding from the three-point arc, shooting 60 percent.
Purdue’s defense continued to puzzle Virginia as Coach Tony Bennett tried different rotations of players throughout the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Cavaliers’ shots wouldn’t fall. After sophomore guard Kody Stattmann converted a second chance lay-up to cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 14-9, Virginia had a nine minute scoring drought.
As the Cavaliers were stymied by the Purdue defense, the Boilermakers continually found seams in Virginia’s defense, going up 26-9. Senior forward Mamadi Diakite finally ended the Cavaliers’ scoring drought with a layup at 3:43.
Virginia was only able to muster six more points in the half, as the Cavaliers entered halftime down 32-17.
Purdue picked up where they left off in the second half, outscoring Virginia 11-6 in the first five minutes of the half. While the Cavaliers attempted to mount a comeback, the Boilermaker’s offense continually had an answer, knocking down threes and hook-shots to pull away.
In the last ten minutes of the game, Purdue ripped off a 21-8 run to seal the victory, avenging a heartbreaking loss to Virginia just nine months earlier in the Elite Eight.
Stefanovic — who finished the game with 20 points — and senior guard Jahaad Proctor — who shot 50 percent from the field to end with 16 points — were stellar for the Boilermakers. Purdue took advantage of the Cavaliers’ 16 turnovers, scoring 15 points.
The Boilermaker’s solid defense forced an inexperienced Virginia team into numerous tough shots, especially from behind the three-point arc. The Cavaliers were 4-for-24 in three-pointers, which constituted 56 percent of their field goal attempts.
However, the road doesn’t get smoother for the Cavaliers. Sunday afternoon, Virginia hosts ACC rival No. 7 North Carolina at John Paul Jones Arena. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m and the game will be broadcast live on ACC Network.