J.R. Reynolds had 25 points, but the Hoos’ defense allowed Utah to shoot 62.3%.
Perhaps, the Virginia men’s basketball team took the shootout portion of the San Juan Shootout literally. After all, the Hoos played little effective defense and launched enough 3-point attempts to make one dizzy. The problem with that? Utah actually executed the “shootout” part of offense much better than the Cavaliers – the Utes nailed 11 3-pointers and shot 62.3% percent en route to a dominant 94-70 victory on Wednesday.
It was the second straight day that UVa’s defense proved porous (Appalachian State shot 55.3% and made 13 treys) and the offense offered little (the Hoos shot 38.9% overall and 15.4% from 3-point land against ASU); UVa shot just 41.7% on Wednesday and made just 7 of 22 trifectas. Virginia coach Dave Leitao was disappointed with his team’s effort, particularly on defense.
“We have to go back to square one and teach defense,” Leitao told the Virginia Sports Network after the game. “Go back to square one and reteach everything.”
The game started with a hopeful tone for the Cavaliers, who jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the early moments of action. J.R. Reynolds, however, picked up two quick fouls and Utah put together an efficient 26-6 burst to put the Hoos in a 27-10 deficit that was too big to overcome.
The Cavaliers did claw within 12 when Jason Cain converted a retro 3-point play with 1:15 to play in the half. That made it 28-26 and Sean Singletary ‘s buzzer-beating layup kept the margin at a dozen entering intermission, 40-28.
After halftime, Virginia did get a glimpse at comeback possibilities in the first few minutes as Mamadi Diane knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 42-33. However, the Utes always came up with the answer on offense as Luke Nevill and Johnnie Bryant poured it on with 26 points each against the Cavs’ shaky defense; Lawrence Borha added 10 as well. In the end, Utah’s 54 points represent the largest half of offense against the Hoos this season.
Plus, the Cavaliers were faulty in rebounding as well. The Utes won the board battle, 37-21.
“Defensively, we just don’t have any sense of purpose, will, or desire right now,” an obviously dejected and frustrated Leitao said.
There were a handful of statistical highlights for the Hoos. Reynolds poured in 25 points, though it was on 7-of-17 shooting. Diane had 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting. Singletary added 11 points on 2-of-9 shooting.
But the best statistic of the day for Virginia came from the free-throw line, where the Hoos made 23 of 29 attempts. The 79.3% number is an encouraging sign for a team that had struggled with that part of the game earlier in the year.
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