UVa’s D Key In Win Vs. Wolverines

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The Virginia men’s basketball team picked up a big win the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday night, downing Michigan 70-58 in Charlottesville. One of the main reasons for the victory proved to be UVa’s continued efforts on the defensive end of the floor where the Cavaliers have been outstanding so far during a 6-1 start to the season.

The Wolverines join six other teams in a category sure to be in the unpopular category for Virginia opponents. That’s the under 60 club. So far this season, UVa has held all seven opponents to less than 60 points. It wasn’t an easy task against Michigan, who entered the game shooting 63% inside the 3-point arc, a statistic noted at the beginning of the ESPN2 broadcast. Of course, that same pregame graphic noted that Virginia had allowed just 37% shooting inside the 3-point line on the season. The Hoos won that critical matchup by holding the visitors to 44% shooting on 2-point attempts (22-50).

How’d they do it?

The Pack-Line defense has been sound with its help responsibilities throughout the season and that remained true against Michigan. The Wolverines tried a variety of looks to put pressure on UVa’s defense, but for the most part the Hoos held strong. Two keys to the Cavaliers’ success came on hedging screens but still recovering and containing the ball on dribble drive attempts. By preventing Michigan from driving into the lane, the defense limited paint shots and kickout jumper opportunities for a solid group of shooters for John Beilein’s team.

Beilein was impressed with Virginia’s defense.

“It’s always going to be good as long as that man is coaching this team. They do a tremendous job. I’m not crazy about scoring 58 points but not a lot of teams may score 58 points against them,” he said. “Thank goodness we made some threes to be able to do that. They’re tough to get easy baskets against and when you get them, you can’t miss them and we had several of those in the game.”

The contest’s most crucial stretch featured a heavy dose of defense from the hosts at John Paul Jones Arena. Trailing 41-38 just before the 12:00 mark in the second half, UVa uncorked a 15-0 run to take the 53-41 lead. While much of the commentary on that stretch has focused on two 3-pointers from Malcolm Brogdon