BOZICH | Louisville meets Virginia, which looks more like Number - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville meets Virginia, which looks more like Number One than overrated

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Virginia never trailed while beating Louisville, 63-47, Saturday. Virginia never trailed while beating Louisville, 63-47, Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Let’s get this out of the way right now:

Virginia is not overrated.

Not if the Cavaliers kept defending the way they defended Saturday while dominating Louisville, 63-47.

Not if they keep making perimeter shots the way they made them while handling the Cardinals from buzzer to buzzer of what was closer to a 23-point game.

Not if they keep playing with same tenacity and poise that they showed Saturday when Louisville scored on three consecutive possessions one time – one --  in 40 minutes.

“I’m frustrated,” Louisville guard Trey Lewis said. “I’m frustrated right now. That’s unacceptable. It’s embarrassing to lose like that on your home floor.”

Did I say that Virginia was overrated? On Saturday the Cavaliers looked more like Number One than 11.

The only questions I had after watching Tony Bennett’s Virginia team overwhelm the Cardinals were these:

How did Virginia surrender 68 points to Georgia Tech, 69 to Florida State and 70 to Virginia Tech and lose those ACC games?

The reason that I was convinced this Virginia team (now 17-4, 6-3 in the ACC) was several notches below the formidable UVa teams the last two seasons was all the defensive metrics showed the Cavaliers had not been dominant on the defensive end.

Points per possession – up. Defensive field goal percentage – up. Loss total on the road – up.

Not Saturday. Louisville scored .758 points per possession, shot 32.7 percent and lost at home for the first time this season.

“It was our most complete game,” Bennett said. “We were complete on both ends of the floor … This is a blueprint for how you have to be defensively.”

"Defensively we made a statement to get back in transition,” Virginia guard London Perrantes said. “We wanted them to play against a set defense.

“I felt we took some very good shots which didn't lead to too many run outs. If we take care of the ball and take good shots in the paint and knock down some shots, it limits their run-outs … It was harder for them."

Tough to beat a veteran team when you make less than a third of your shots and have more turnovers (18) than field goals (16).

“We turned the ball over too much and you can’t do that against a Virginia team, but they played like they were an experienced basketball team,” Pitino said.

“We played like a bunch of inexperienced guys that did not know what they were in for.”

Question Two: How concerning should it be to Pitino that Louisville has not had the necessary juice to beat Michigan State, Kentucky and Virginia, the three best teams on the Cardinals’ schedule, especially with North Carolina, one of the nation’s two best teams, arriving in the KFC Yum! Center Monday night?

Carolina is the anti-Virginia. The Tar Heels want to score, not limit possessions. The Tar Heels feature a dazzling frontcourt, not guards who understand the value of protecting the basketball.

“You can’t control your shots,” Louisville freshman Donovan Mitchell said. “You can control whether you play defense or not.

“If we do the same thing on Monday I think it’s not going to be pretty. We have to focus much more on our defense.”

Virginia is not overrated. Did I mention that?

It’s difficult to overrate the defense that Bennett’s team played against Louisville. Quentin Snider was the only U of L guy to convert a field goal in the first 11 ½ minutes. The Cardinals finished the first 20 minutes with four field goals.

Consider: Freshmen made 11 of the Louisville’s 16 field goals.

“We came into the game wanting to run our offense fast before their defense set up,” Mitchell said. “There were a bunch of times when we just ran it slow and didn’t cut hard.”

Damion Lee scored six points. Trey Lewis scored four. They combined to miss 10 of 13 shots.

For Lee, the six points matched his season low. It was 11 less than his average and only the second time this season Lee has failed to score double figures.

“Make him earn it,” Bennett said. “Fight. Bother his shot.”

Once these teams started going up and down, there was never a minute when it appeared that Louisville had a chance to win this game.

The Cardinals worked as hard as they have been forced to work all season to score – and were still getting contested shots. They got little at the rim.

Think about this one: Jaylen Johnson, Anas Mahmoud and Chinanu Onuaku played a combined 57 minutes and did not contribute a field goal.

Virginia is not overrated. Have I said it enough times?

As much as Pitino was willing to credit Virginia’s defense, he made sure to criticize the way his team defended.

It was not Coach Speak. UVa made better than half of its field goal attempts in the first and second halves, finishing at 57.8 percent (26-45), the first time an opponent has made more than 50 percent of its attempts against Louisville this season.

“Unfortunately I saw this day coming,” Pitino said. “I am none too pleased with it.”

This is the issue when you allow Virginia to shoot a high percentage: It gives the Cavaliers an extra second or two to get back to defend. You don’t get many easy points in transition if you’re reaching for the ball and taking it inbounds.

“We just didn’t match their intensity,” Mahmoud said. “We didn’t play tough enough on offense. We didn’t play aggressive offense.”

“We got hit really hard and it’s all about how you respond,” Mitchell said. “I think this is good for us because now I think we won’t let that happen the next game.  We know how to play against a top tier team in our conference.”

North Carolina is a top tier team. So is Virginia.

And in case you missed the news, let me say it one more time:

Virginia is not overrated.

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