Double Bonus: UNC

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Evan Nolte knocked down a trio of 3-pointers vs. UNC.

The Virginia men’s basketball team opened ACC play with a 61-52 victory against North Carolina on Sunday. Six different Cavaliers scored at least 6 points in the win, while the team’s defense held UNC to just 37.3% shooting on the night. There were some other key details in the win, however, and Sabre Editor Kris Wright takes a closer look in a new EDGE feature called the “Double Bonus.”

Pick-And-Pop With Nolte

When Virginia recruited freshman Evan Nolte out of Georgia, the initial vision was to play him frequently as a ‘stretch four’ … meaning someone that could be a screener in the offensive system and then space away from the paint to create openings for teammates or open shots for himself. So far, that plan has proven beneficial for the Hoos as Nolte looks comfortable as an astronaut in all that space.

Take the UNC game this weekend for example. When Virginia used a couple of on-ball screens in the early going, it was clear then – and I’m sure in advanced scouting as well – that Carolina would commit the screener’s defender to helping on the ball-handler trying to drive off of that screen. I even said on press row that I’d like to see that same look with Nolte as the screener. I got my wish. The Tar Heels also provided curl protection on down screens, meaning the screener’s defender stayed inside toward the paint in order to prohibit the cutting player from wrapping around the screen and into the lane for a short shot or drive.

Both of those things made Nolte dangerous in this game with his shooting touch. UVa repeatedly used Nolte in pick-and-pop (set a screen and separate as far as you can on the perimeter vs. rolling to the basket in the traditional pick-and-roll look) situations, particularly after intermission. It gave UNC trouble as expected and played a key role for the Hoos at the mid-way point of the second half. At 8:53, the Cavaliers led just 43-40 when they created a down screen play with Nolte and Jontel Evans . Nolte set the down screen for Evans, who curled it slightly in an effort to attack the