For the majority of the second half on Thursday night, the Virginia men’s basketball team appeared ready to take home its third ACC home win of the season. For the final five minutes of regulation and then overtime, however, the Cavaliers struggled to score and struggled to get stops, leading to a disappointing 76-71 loss against rival Virginia Tech.
So what happened down the stretch as the Cavaliers let a 10-point lead slip from their grasps? The Hokies flashed some fullcourt pressure and seemingly changed the rhythm of the game. That led to poor execution, missed shots and defensive breakdowns by UVa and eventually a VT win.
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“It kind of took us out of our halfcourt offense and caused us to turn the ball over a little bit too much and that’s uncharacteristic of us,” Cavalier guard Sammy Zeglinski said of the fullcourt pressure.
“We were pretty solid with our decision making up until that point and then there were some breakdowns. We could have run some clock. Jeff got a wide open look. He had hit one and it would have been a time to run some clock,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “We left a guy unguarded in transition, two turnovers and the out of bound plays, fouling Delaney – there were just some things where I thought our execution and just making some sound decisions hurt us.”
Indeed, Virginia did have some issues in the game’s final 10 minutes and Virginia Tech’s decision to pick up the defensive pressure had a lot to do with it. Just before five minutes remained in regulation, the Hokies showed some three-quarter court pressure and they continued to use varying types of fullcourt pressure the rest of the second half. Up to that point, the Cavaliers had made 8 of 14 shots after intermission and climbed to a 58-50 advantage.
Interestingly, the Hoos scored on the first possession against the pressure defense. On the first trip, they slowly broke down the pressure and then worked their halfcourt offense; when Sylven Landesberg was double-teamed, he found Jerome Meyinsse inside for a lay-up with 4:58 to go and a 10-point edge. After that sequence, however, the Cavs seemed to lose their way.
Jeff Jones missed two free throws on the next trip down the floor, the team’s first two misses at the stripe in the half. Jones redeemed himself with a made jumper...
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