Anderson is a sharp kid. He didn’t get caught up in engaging Maryland’s fans. He knew what to expect. “They just did what they had to do,” he said of the jabs. Anderson concentrated on the big picture: Virginia is coming together.
“We’re definitely jelling,” he said. “Every time we step on the hardwood together, we’re getting better collectively as a unit. . . . We’re all starting to trust each other. It’s all starting to flow.”
The Cavaliers’ shooting definitely was on point. For the second straight game, they made more than 54 percent of their field goal attempts. Virginia was even better from three-point range: 57.9 percent — the highest by a Maryland opponent this season. The Cavaliers’ 11 three-pointers matched the second-highest total against the Terrapins.
Again, guard Joe Harris was Virginia’s most efficient player. The team’s leading scorer had a game-high 22 points while making 7 of 8 shots from the field and connecting on 3 of 4 from behind the three-point arc.
“Guys were moving really well to the ball,” Harris said. “We take a lot of pride in our shooting ability.”
Of course, it’s always easier to make uncontested shots. The Cavaliers often had good looks at the basket because the Terrapins couldn’t keep pace on defense.
“We seemed a little lethargic; a half-step slow from the beginning,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said. “We never stopped competing. We tried hard. We just couldn’t guard them.”
The Terrapins also moved in slow motion in rebounding. The Cavaliers went after misses with more determination than their opponents. “I thought they were real physical,” Turgeon said. “They held their box-outs.”
Virginia has eight conference games remaining before the ACC tournament. That’s way too much time for Bennett to start getting comfortable. He knows there are many battles ahead to determine how he’ll look back on this season.
“You just try to play as good of ball as you can,” he said.
That’s what the Cavaliers are doing. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you block out the noise.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.