No. 8 Virginia grinds down No. 12 Villanova in 86-75 victory

When Virginia and Villanova get together, you know you’re going to get a matchup between two of the most efficient teams in the country. Both teams are going to execute flawlessly on both ends, and they’re going to impose their will on you.

The Wahoos simply just did a better job of that Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

No. 8 Virginia defeated No. 12 Villanova 86-75 as the Cavaliers (9-1) went on an outrageous offensive run in the second half to salt the game away. They scored at least one point on 22 of their final 26 possessions, putting up 47 points over that 15-minute stretch. The biggest piece was senior leader Malcolm Brogdon, who continually made plays both with his jump shot and his ability to recognize defenses and make plays for others. Brogdon finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, with a majority of those numbers coming in the second half. Anthony Gill also deserves mention for his 22 points, seven boards, and terrific work defensively.

Villanova got a big game from Kris Jenkins, who scored 23, but the Wildcats could never totally take control of the game in large part due to struggles on the glass. Jay Wright’s team only grabbed nine defensive rebounds compared to Virginia’s 13 offensive rebounds, and it ended up costing them 12 second-chance points. A lot of attention will be paid to how Villanova defended after Virginia’s hot run of play, but if there’s one weakness that the team needs to address it would seem to be on the glass.

There are some definitely questions that Villanova (8-2) needs to answer, but let’s stick on the positive side of the ledger and chat about where Virginia is right now. The Wahoos are sitting at 9-1 now with four straight victories over top-100 teams, including its previous two over top-25 competition. And in each of those previous two games, it has basically been the same story. They’ve grinded out rough starts, and then turned it on late to pick up the win.

That’s what makes Virginia so hard to play against. They’re so disciplined defensively that it’s hard to really get away from them in the first half. But it’s also hard to stay focused for 40 minutes against a team that puts just continual pressure on you on both ends.

They pressure you on defense just with the way they double and help. They pressure you on the glass by crashing it continuously in waves. They pressure you on offense by being a great shooting team who also makes the right reversal pass every time for an open shot. It wears on you and grinds you down throughout the course of a game. And just when you let your guard down for a second, that’s exactly when Virginia springs out and goes on a run like we saw today.

This is a good basketball team, folks. And it looks capable of making a run to the Final Four if things break right.

Virginia's Anthony Gill (USATSI)
Virginia’s Anthony Gill, who scored a team-high 22 points, works to get to the basket vs. Villanova. (USATSI)

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