Miami Slips By Hoos Late

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Sylven Landesberg was shut down by the Hurricane defense in the second half.

Offensive woes came back to haunt the Cavaliers again on Thursday night. The hosts failed to score in the game’s final six possessions and Miami slipped out of the John Paul Jones Arena with a 62-55 win. Three turnovers by three different players down the stretch contributed heavily to the loss as ball-handling issues continued to plague Virginia in the loss.

“Especially under four minute time, the combination of tentativeness and not making the right pass,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. ” There were a couple of other instances where we turned it over which is a combination of their being more aggressive on defense. I thought their zone was good and but I think their zone had a bit of a wear down effect in therms of us playing a little bit mentally back on our heels. They went to man to man, and it was a switching man to man as it was a little bit in the first half. When you have that and we’ve faced that many times before, you should be able to attack off the dribble and we didn’t do a good job and as a result, we turned the ball over.”

Landesberg said that he in particular was pressing in the game’s final minutes.

“I guess we saw plays that were there and tried to force things,” Landersberg said. “I know I turned the ball over one time, I saw Sammy open in the corner and tried to get it to him and that resulted in a turnover. The other players I guess were the same thing. We all had our minds in the right plays, we were trying to make the right plays but we were trying to force it.”

The Canes’ zone defense locked down Landesberg in the second half, only allowing the freshman to score two points after intermission. The guard hit three 3-pointers to open the game with a quick nine points before Miami froze him out. Hurricane coach Frank Haith said after the game that they were specifically trying to keep Landesberg out of the lane.

“He had a couple of transition buckets but our zone was good in the second half in terms of knowing where he was at,” Haith said. “We really don’t want him to drive the ball, we think that’s where he’s dangerous in terms of putting a lot of pressure on the defense off the dribble. I thought our defense did a really good job of keeping him out of the paint.”

Jeff Jones contributed 16 points in the loss.

Without Landesberg’s offense, Virginia was left handicapped with no other players able to break through. Jeff Jones , benched for nearly seven minutes in the second half, appeared to find holes in the coverage, hitting a 3-pointer with 3:52 left, but that would be Virginia’s last score. The sophomore finished with a team-high 16 points and sat down because of defensive lapses according to Leitao.

“What I told him when he came out was I know there were three or four specific defensive assignments that he got lost on,” Leitao said. “All of them didn’t cost us points but I took him out and put Mustapha [Farrakhan] in. Mustapha did a better job that way and I rode it for a little bit longer than I intended to and obviously with 5 or 6 to go put Jeff back in.”

Inevitably the loss, Virginia’s 10th of the ACC variety, came down to the game’s final minutes and as has been the case so often this season, the Cavaliers simply failed to execute.

“We got to a timeout with 3:20 to go and it was a tie score, I think it was 55-55,” Leitao said. “I said to the group, somebody’s going to separate themselves and unfortunately it wasn’t us.”

For the Cavaliers, however, the season marches on … at least for the next two weeks. With a very physical, talented Wake Forested team on the horizon, Landesberg said he is fully aware of the challenges that await the Cavaliers on Saturday.

“Wake Forest is another good team and in this conference you never get a day off. You are going to play a good team every night so we just need to get back to work to get ready for them,” he said. “Of course the losses hurt but we are still high on ourselves. We still think we could pull out a few wins.”

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