By Ryan Goodman
January 8th, 2015
With an undefeated record on the line, the #3 Virginia Cavaliers Men’s Basketball Team squared off against the unranked (but underrated) NC State Wolfpack, a matchup that proved to live up to its billing. The Wahoos, like they usually do, closed out the game with Head Coach Tony Bennett’s signature “pack-line” defense en route to a 61-51 victory.
While the ten point margin usually signifies an easy, comfortable victory for the Cavs, this game was much of the opposite. The Wolfpack came out of the gate firing and hit a whopping four three pointers in the first five minutes to take a 14-6 lead. Lead by Senior marksman Ralston Turner’s perfect first half (5-5 FG, 4-4 3pt FG) the Wolfpack were very active on both ends of the floor and headed into the locker room down only one point.
The second half was much of the same, with NC State maxing out the shot clock and making tough, contested shots, highlighted by Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey’s ridiculous off balance three pointer with nine minutes remaining to push the Wolfpack ahead, 42-41.
However, that style of offense is almost impossible to maintain against the #5 adjusted defense in the country (kenpom.com), which was clearly evident when Virginia immediately responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by a strong two man game between freshman guard Marial Shayok and sophomore big man Mike Tobey. The defense was just as efficient, stopping Mark Gottfried’s bunch an incredible 9 consecutive times, holding them scoreless over that entire six minute stretch, effectively rendering NC State’s chances of an upset hopeless.
The closest the Wolfpack came thereafter was six points, as Virginia pulled off another classic, hard fought, defensive victory.
Takeaway: The great thing about this Virginia team is that when they’re having an off night from the field, they can always count on their stifling defense, which is something very few teams can lay claim to and an a winning ingredient for Tony Bennett and his squad of overachieving team-players.
Next up: 1/10 vs. 13Notre Dame, 6pm tipoff