Virginia Basketball Double Bonus: Virginia Tech

When Virginia and Virginia Tech prepared for their first meeting of the year earlier this week, both teams knew what the opposing defense would present and that each could be stingy at times. Plus, both teams knew that their preferred tempo could also suppress the score a bit. Instead, an offensive showdown developed at the John Paul Jones Arena that UVA won 78-68.

Statistically, the Hoos shot 50.9% from the floor overall and 92.3% from the free throw line while getting enough 3-pointers at a 34.8% clip to win. The Hokies made 49.1% of their shots overall and 44.4% of their 3-point attempts with a strong performance of their own. In the end, 10 total players scored in double figures.

So what helped the teams produce those numbers? The Double Bonus is back for a closer look.

Some Early Virginia Offense

Kihei Clark (20), Armaan Franklin (15), Jayden Gardner (12), Reece Beekman (11), and Ben Vander Plas (10) made up the double-digit scoring list for the Cavaliers. The three guards made 18 of 29 shots to lead the way. Much of the production once again came from the 3-man motion/interior triangle offense that’s been in heavy use over the last several games. Read about it other recent Double Bonus articles.

Since that’s been discussed with some frequency of late, I picked out what I thought were some key “easy” buckets to add to the big point total. Here are five different possessions where Virginia went with some action early in the shot clock and scored 9 points.

The second UVA basket of the game fell into this category quickly. With the score tied at 2-2, Virginia brought the ball across halfcourt and Franklin passed the ball to the top of the key where the reversed it to Beekman on the left wing. After making the pass, Franklin walked into a back screen from Gardner that caught Sean Pedulla a little off guard for Tech. He went around the screen and Justyn Mutts didn’t recognize the situation to help on Franklin. Beekman fired the ball to him near the basket for an easy layup.

Virginia also generated some successful trips with something else that’s been used frequently lately: early possession drag screens. A drag screen occurs when a guard brings the ball across halfcourt on one side of the floor and a post simply walks into an on-ball screen from the middle of the court. In this game, the Cavaliers created that simple concept repeatedly on an empty side of the court, which allowed a two-man screen-and-roll action to look for an easy opportunity.

With 7:00 to go approximately in the first half, there’s a good example of the drag screen action. Clark brought the ball up the court, used a ball screen from Gardner, and then slipped him the ball rolling into open space. Gardner had just hit a jumper from that spot moments before from a regular possession so when he caught it and showed a little fake, that caused Lynn Kidd to lift up a little bit defensively. Gardner used that advantage to dribble into the post, bump off the defense, and spin back to a hook.

The Hoos secured another basket from this type of action in the final minute of the first half. Clark pushed the ball up the right side of the floor, paused to wait for a Vander Plas screen, and then used it to get into the paint. Once he got near the rim, he scored the layup. This example had the added benefit of being a 2-for-1 possession, which long-time fans know can be rare for Virginia. That extra possession turned into the Beekman highlight dunk.

Two other drag screen possessions that led to points came in the second half if you want to take a look. The first came with approximately 16:54 remaining in the game when the action led to free throws for Gardner. He made 1 of 2. Another came at approximately the 10:05 mark when Clark turned the corner off a screen and scored off the glass.

Hokie Handoffs

Darius Maddox (13) led the Hokies’ five double-digit scorers while Grant Basile (12), Hunter Cattoor (11), Mutts (10), and Pedulla (10) made it to that plateau too. While Virginia had some early offense clicking, VT found some success with handoffs in the game. That’s something that coach Tony Bennett noted afterward. There are a few examples that follow.

First up is a baseline out of bounds