Coach Dave Leitao’s team has suffered back-to-back losses of more than 20 points.
The Virginia men’s basketball team picked up right where it left off on Sunday night at Duke. Obviously for Dave Leitao and the Cavaliers, that wasn’t a good thing considering where they left off was a 38-point demolition at Xavier.
Simply put, the Hoos again gave up too many open looks and lay-ups defensively while struggling to score offensively. The Blue Devils took full advantage in an 87-65 blowout of the Cavs, who trailed by double digits for much of the game and never threatened.
“We lost today to a very good team and, usually as is the case, especially in this league, and especially on the road, when you allow a good team to play to their strengths and you don’t match it with the strengths that you may have, then the outcome is quite obvious,” UVa coach Dave Leitao said on the Virginia Sports Network.
The story of the evening started early in Cameron Indoor Stadium – Duke’s pressure defense continuously disrupted the Virginia offense and Duke’s spread-and-drive offense continuously dissected the Virginia defense. Throw in the Blue Devils’ advantage on the glass and the recipe wasn’t a good one for the visiting Cavaliers.
Offensively, UVa’s motion sets couldn’t produce quality scoring chances against Duke’s ball pressure, passing lane denials, and consistent rotations. As a result, the Cavs spent much of the night trying exclusively to create off of the dribble with individual efforts, something that is not a strength for this team outside of Sean Singletary and Calvin Baker. While that did provide some assists or points for that duo, the moments were far too infrequent.
“They’ve got four, five, six guys that can [create off the dribble] and tonight we had two. It’s not supposed to be inbalanced like that,” Leitao said. “There’s a simplistic way that we’ve tried to teach to counter that and we’ve got to work on it some more so Calvin is not the only guy who has opportunities. Once you do try to create something off the bounce, we’ve got to be in certain areas and certain spots to develop the kind of trust that allows the offense to continue from there and we weren’t real good at that today either.”
That fact is reflected clearly in the statistics. Singletary posted a team-high 18 points, but had just four assists and seven turnovers; Baker, meanwhile, added 13 points and two assists. Outside of that production, only Mamadi Diane had double figures (11 on 3-of-12 shooting); Jamil Tucker and Ryan Pettinella added nine each. The Hoos’ only assists outside of the starting backcourt came from those three as well – they each had one.
“Our offense got back on its heels. It was not the first time [this season] that we’ve been pressured on the wings and denials like that,” Leitao said. “I knew it was coming and it’s not a great thing to have it happen to you. It’s not the first time, but it’s the most effective time it’s happened to us and it threw us off balance and we didn’t react very well to it.”
Cavalier guard Calvin Baker had 13 points and 2 assists.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski felt his team did an O.K. job on Singletary by slowing down his free throw attempts (Singletary was 4 for 4) and his playmaking for teammates.
“We did O.K. with him. No one is going to do an unbelievable job on him because he’s good. He’s just good. But you try not to foul him because he can get seven, eight to 10 free throws – he can get that many in the game because he’s so good with the ball,” Krzyzewski said. “And he does get someone else shots when he’s [driving well] so you have to stay home as much as possible on Joseph and Diane. Overall, we did a pretty good job of doing that.”
A near polar opposite existed on the Blue Devils’ offensive end. Good spacing and drive-and-pitch shooting opportunities combined with a peppering of lay-ups to pick apart UVa’s defense, which too often failed to rotate to cut off drives or to recover to open shooters. While there were signs of improvement on D, the inconsistency on that end of the floor is something that you can’t afford against a talented offensive team against Duke.
DeMarcus Nelson led the offensive charge for the Devils with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and he added three assists to boot. Gerald Henderson added 18 points, while Kyle Singler (13) and Jon Scheyer (12) were also in double figures.
“That’s kind of what happened today. Defensively, we didn’t keep the ball outside of the middle of the floor, outside of the paint enough to prevent the amount of open perimeter shots that they got,” Leitao said. “Give them a lot of credit because they have a number of guys … that can put the ball on the floor and make positive plays and really test a team’s defense and they did it to us today.”
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