Mustapha Farrakhan helped the Hoos sweep the Hokies.
It’s not a cure for everything that has ailed this Virginia basketball program this season, but it helps. Boy does it help. The season’s ‘almost had it’ wins and low-scoring losses took an afternoon hiatus on Saturday as the Cavaliers swept rival Virginia Tech in front of a lively, and thankful, John Paul Jones Arena crowd.
No, it isn’t some magic elixir, bibbity-bobbity-boo cure for the revenue sport blues. But it helps.
Everyone from UVa coach Tony Bennett, who was a frustrated as I’ve seen him in two short years here at Virginia after Wednesday’s loss to Duke, to the true freshmen grinding through their first campaign to Mustapha Farrakhan , who shook of a scary spill to provide some clutch play in the second half, needed this one.
Not just needed. Wanted. Really, really wanted it.
“A rivalry game and wanting to get a victory – that was the challenge. In the locker room, I said, ‘We talk about quality, but you’ve got to play to win.’ We played some good stretches. I’m sure we’ll break down some of the turnovers we had, but we did enough good things,” Bennett said. “I thought defensively, the way they played made me think they understood the significance of this game.”
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Take Mustapha Farrakhan for example. The senior guard took a chest-first dive into the floor after flying in for an attempted offensive rebound. He curled up in a heap while play continued on the other end. After the whistle finally stopped play, he limped off with athletic trainer Ethan Saliba and into a back hallway at the JPJ. His parents came down from the stands to check on him.
Fortunately for the Hoos, the result of the fall was minor – a wind knocked out...
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