No. 13 Washington 106, Virginia 63: Three up, three down
Following Virginia's 106-63 loss to No. 13 Washington in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Monday night, Coach Tony Bennett was asked whether, in this particular case, having such a quick turnaround before the Cavaliers' next game was a positive.
"I’ll tell you tomorrow," Bennett said. "I don’t think there’s a lot of film you need to show them. I think it was pretty obvious. We’ll just have to turn around and hopefully establish some things."
A lot of things. From the time Bennett left the postgame podium, he had roughly 14 hours to address the myriad flaws his team displayed against a very aggressive, very accurate Washington squad. Virginia (2-2) will play Oklahoma (3-1) Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. EST in the consolation side of the tournament bracket. The Sooners lost to Kentucky, 76-64, on Monday.
Clearly, a lot of things went wrong for the Cavaliers. But all of their problems stemmed from the fact that they quickly and easily got sped up by Washington's pressure defense. Twelve of Virginia's 17 turnovers came in the first half. At halftime, the Huskies led by 24.
In the end, the Cavaliers suffered their worst loss since falling by 45 at North Carolina on March 1, 2006. Never before in Bennett's four-plus seasons as a head coach had his team been defeated so thoroughly.
1) Joe Harris. Billy Baron might have had the hot hand during Virginia's season-opening win over William & Mary on Nov. 12. But through four games this season, Harris has been the most impressive freshman on the roster. He started his second consecutive game and finished with 19 points (on 8 of 13 shooting) and seven rebounds Monday night. There weren't many bright spots for the Cavaliers against Washington. But Harris's continued solid play was one of them.
2) K.T. Harrell. Harris replaced Harrell in the starting lineup Thursday at Stanford, but in his second game coming off the bench Harrell turned in a decent performance. He was the only Virginia player aggressive enough with the ball to make it to the free throw line consistently against Washington. He shot 8 for 13 from the charity stripe and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. He tallied three turnovers in the first half, but none in the second.
3) First-half shooting. Just try to imagine how many points Virginia would have trailed by at halftime had the Cavaliers not shot 46.2 percent from the field before the intermission.
On second thought, don't.
1) Pace of play. Washington controlled the tempo from the outset. The Huskies wanted to push the ball up and down the floor, and that's exactly what they did. You can blame it on Virginia's host of inexperienced players if you'd like, but the five freshmen who played significant minutes Monday night weren't the only ones panicking on both ends of the floor. The entire group was sped up, and that led to poor decisions. Very, very poor decisions. And lots of them. Bennett said that against Washington, an opponent must make the Huskies play against a set defense and must take care of the ball. Washington shot 58 percent from the field Monday night, and the Cavaliers recorded 17 turnovers.
2) Frontcourt performance. Senior forward Will Sherrill started in place of junior center Assane Sene, and -- given Sene's struggles -- that was helpful. But only to a certain extent. Sherrill finished with three points and two rebounds. His lone made basket was a three-point shot. Senior forward Mike Scott tallied 11 first-half points before being shut out in the second half. Sene, by the way, logged six minutes and registered one points, one block, one turnover and no rebounds. Virginia's most effective frontcourt player ended up being freshman forward Akil Mitchell, who finished with four points and five rebounds in 15 minutes.
3) Jontel Evans. It was not a very encouraging night for Evans, who shot 1 for 3 from the field and registered three points. He struggled to keep up with Washington guard Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Evans tallied three fouls before halftime and recorded six turnovers on the night. Evans will face other teams that bring defensive pressure, including a few before junior guard Sammy Zeglinski is supposed to return from injury in mid-December, and the Cavaliers had better hope Evans learns from Monday's experience. Quickly.