Virginia already needed a strong performance from Malcolm Brogodn because of the absence of London Perrantes. But when the shorthanded Cavaliers’ offense failed to get good looks against Ohio State, the Wahoos needed Brogdon to not only be a facilitator but primary scoring threat.
Luckily, the ACC’s preseason co-Player of the Year was feeling it from long range and No. 10 Virginia was able to leave Columbus with a 64-58 victory.
Brogdon knocked down six of his 10 3-point tries in an impressive display of outside shooting that kept Virginia above water on a night where buckets didn’t come easy. The senior led all scorers with 22 points to go with six rebounds and a pair of assists.
Ohio State, on the other hand, had surprising success against Virginia’s first-class defense, and might have been able to pull off the upset if not for a few ill-timed droughts when there was a chance to take control of the game. Marc Loving led the way with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Keita Bates-Diop (15 points) hit a three with 27 seconds left to cut Virginia’s lead to 61-58.
DOUBLE TAKE @lovingthegame32 with an AND-1 to give @OhioStateHoops a 41-40 lead. #GoBucks #B1GACC pic.twitter.com/5E7MjGbaOV
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) December 2, 2015
For Virginia, the offensive issues against Ohio State should not be reason for alarm considering the absence of Perrantes. Tony Bennett told reporters after the game he isn’t sure when the junior point guard will be back after his weekend appendectomy, but barring any dramatic setbacks he can get back in the lineup and UVA’s offense will find its rhythm eventually.
The loss of Justin Anderson is still a talking point, but the loss of Darion Atkins is something that seems far more impactful at this point in the season. Atkins was as good a defender as anyone in the ACC last season and his presence is missed down low with the 2015-16 team. Virginia is figuring out what works, but it’s tough to figure it all out with a starting point guard on the bench.
On the other side the loss marks four straight for the Buckeyes, all out of conference play, with three losses coming at home. Thad Matta is off to the worst start of his career at 2-4 and it’s looking like a long season in Columbus. Ohio State is figuring it out, and the long scoring droughts against Virginia can be attributed to that lack of cohesion.
It’s hard to judge much from Virginia given the circumstances, but simply avoiding a potentially bad loss has to feel like a win for the Wahoos. Virginia will play better and won’t need so much from Brogdon, but the team is lucky he was able to step up on Tuesday.