Virginia guard Jontel Evans knew he needed to expand his offensive repertoire in order to combat defenses that wanted to focus their attention on UVa’s other players. Too often during his sophomore season, defenders would drop off of him to help on other players when he didn’t have the ball and they would sag back to cut off driving lanes that lead to drive-and-kick opportunities when he had the ball.
While those tactics have continued this season, the junior’s offseason work is paying dividends more frequently for the Hoos’ offense. Evans registered 10 points and 6 assists with just 2 turnovers in the 66-49 victory against Boston College. That’s the fifth time this season and the second straight game that Evans contributed double figures in the scoring column. So far, he owns an ACC average of 6.4 points per game, an improvement of 2.4 points over his 4.0 career points per game average in conference competition.
“He has to [keep looking for his shot]. In my opinion, if people are going to back off of him that much, he has to reel in the slack and get to the paint,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “He worked hard in the offseason on his touch, his floaters and his drives. His one-dribble pull up hasn’t shown up, but he has to take shots with good decisions behind them. He has to loosen up the defense and he certainly has the freedom to do that.”
Evans, who said he stays with assistant coach Ron Sanchez after every other practice to continue to work on his finishing skills, tries to pick the right times to be aggressive for the Cavaliers.
“Just read the defense and taking what the defense gives me and not trying to force anything,” Evans said of picking his spots on offense. “Tonight, they gave me a lot of opportunities to get to my sweet spots like the box down low where I could just kiss it off the glass.”
Mitchell Down Low
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