The final seven games on Virginia’s regular season slate certainly could be more brutal. But as it stands, the Cavaliers won’t exactly be strolling toward Atlanta for the ACC tournament.
So they needed Wednesday night. They needed a game in which the outcome largely was determined by halftime. They needed a contest in which their top three minute-getters did not have to be on the floor until the final whistle sounded.
In other words, they needed to play Wake Forest, and as one final gift from the ACC schedule-makers, that’s exactly what Virginia got. The Cavaliers defeated the Demon Deacons, 68-44, on Wednesday. Five Virginia players scored in double figures for the first time this season. Mike Scott tallied 19 points in 26 minutes. Joe Harris and Sammy Zeglinski were needed for just 22 minutes each.
And now that the Cavaliers have had a chance to exhale, they will need to take a deep breath as they venture into the homestretch of their conference slate. Up next: a trip to Chapel Hill to face No. 5 North Carolina. The final six games of the regular season: at Clemson, vs. Maryland, at Virginia Tech, vs. North Carolina, vs. Florida State, at Maryland.
“Tonight we were fortunate to obviously have both parts [offense and defense] working, and Wake Forest was a little off,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “I understand B.C. beat Florida State, so again, every game is tough. We know what we have to do, and we’ll try to execute to the best of our abilities. There’s great opportunities out there for us.”
Bennett wasn’t kidding. Boston College defeated Florida State, 64-60, on Wednesday.
1) Mike Scott. All Scott did Wednesday was score as many points in 26 minutes as Wake Forest did in the entire first half. Scott shot 9 for 9 from the field, something that had been done only twice previously in program history. Jeff Jones did it against UAB on March 18, 1982, and Kenny Turner did it against Samford on Nov. 11, 1989. Also, Scott’s 9-for-9 effort was the fourth-best (in terms of number of made baskets) perfect shooting performance by an individual player in the nation this season. He did miss 1 of 2 free throws, though, and don’t think he was let off the hook for that in the postgame media availability.
“Oh yeah,” Scott said, “I should have made that free throw.”
2) Malcolm Brogdon. The freshman guard scored 10 points for the second straight game, marking the first time in his young career he’d tallied double digits in consecutive outings. He shot 4 of 5 from the field, including 2 of 3 from three-point range.
“He did a nice job at the end of the Florida State game,” Bennett said. “He’s a freshman, but he’s physical enough to play in those games. He actually started the game with a couple of careless turnovers, but when Malcolm’s locked in, when he knocks down his shot, his outside shot, he’s a hard matchup because he can put it on the floor with his strength, and he’s got a deceptive first step that he can get in there and cause some problems at the rim. And then his outside shot, as that gets more consistent, I’m hopeful for his future.”
3) Akil Mitchell. The sophomore forward tied a career-high with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and tallied a career-high four assists Wednesday. He also grabbed a team-high six rebounds against Wake Forest. It was a nice bounce-back effort from Mitchell after he did not attempt a shot from the field, did not score any points and managed just three rebounds during Saturday’s 58-55 loss at Florida State. Mitchell logged a team-high 35 minutes Wednesday.
1) Free throw shooting. Can you imagine how much more pumped you would be about Virginia’s win over the Demon Deacons if the Cavaliers had prevailed by 27 points instead of merely 24? Had Wake Forest put another 20 minutes on the clock, not told Virginia about it and went on a massive run while playing 5-on-0, those three free throws the Cavaliers – who shot 5 for 8 from the charity stripe on the night – missed Wednesday could have proven costly.
2) Sarcasm. That previous point was pretty weak.
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