Finally, a challenger.
But yet another win.
Virginia fought off Providence’s comeback attempt early in the first half to defeat the Friars and win the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, FL. London Perrantes and Darius Thompson each scored 11 to lead the Hoos in their toughest (and only) test yet.
The first half played out for the Hoos similar to how it did in last night’s easy win over Iowa, as Virginia entered halftime with a comfortable 34-20 lead. The second half? Not so much. Virginia played horribly out of the locker room, turning the ball over four times en route to allowing Providence to get within 5 of the lead. The Wahoos wouldn’t score for the first 4:44 of the half.
The Friars proved tough to shake, utilizing a full-court defense throughout most of the second half – something that has proven to be a potential antidote to Virginia’s unflappable offense – but they never got closer than five. Virginia gradually pulled away to seal the win and improve to 6-0 on the year.
Jalen Lindsey went 4-6 behind the arc to lead Providence (4-2) with 18. The Friars were UVa’s first opponent in a while that avoided being humiliated by their defense, scoring the most points as well as shooting at a higher clip (37.5%) than any other.
THREE WHO MATTERED
- Mamadi Diakite: Diakite gave UVa a huge lift late, scoring all 10 of his points (including a pair of three-pointers, the first of his career) in the second half. He also added 3 more blocks. Diakite has been really impressive so far in this 2016-17 season, displaying impressive athleticism and loads of raw talent on both ends of the floor, which is great news for a Virginia team having lost their best interior force in Austin Nichols.
- London Perrantes: Perrantes’ 3-pointer to end Providence’s 9-0 run out of the locker room was the shot of the game for Virginia. That’s what you need your guy to do – hit ’em when it really counts. He also made a fantastic hustle play late in the contest, diving for a ball destined to go out of bounds to keep the possession alive. Perrantes has yet to have a big scoring game, but he hasn’t really needed too, either. It says something about a player when he has achieved his status as one of the best players in the country from his defense, passing, and leadership and not his points per game average. Boy, are we UVa fans gonna miss him.
- Rodney Bullock: Cooley has always coached his team around one guy, and this year with the absence of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil that guy is Bullock. Yes, the forward scored 16 points, but it was a quiet 16 points as he struggled to get the shots he wanted against UVa’s infamous Pack Line defense and ended up 5-20 from the field.
With the Emerald Coast Classic behind them, no. 7 Virginia now looks toward the ACC/Big Ten challenge, where they will face Ohio State for the second consecutive year this Wednesday. Providence will host New Hampshire on the same day.