We’ve come full circle with Virginia this season. The Wahoos started the year as a preseason pick to contend for the ACC title, then confidence wavered after losses to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State in the first handful of ACC contests.
After winning six straight, including a dominant 16-point win at Louisville and Saturday’s 64-50 win at Pittsburgh, we’re right back to looking at Virginia, 18-4 overall and 7-3 in ACC play, as a team that could end up winning this league.
Individually, no one’s been better than Malcolm Brogdon. He’s scored at least 20 points in five of the last six games and was wildly efficient with 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting with three 3-pointers and a perfect showing at the free-throw line.
“We have an offense and a coach that puts the ball in my hands in the right situations,” Brogdon told the ACC Network’s Jason Capel after the game.
Of course, sometimes Brogdon takes the game into his own hands (and throws it through the rim violently).
As a team, the difference in Virginia’s game play recently has been on the defensive end. Tony Bennett never lost confidence when the losses snuck up on this team and challenged them to take the next step defensively. Anthony Gill dealt with foul trouble against Pitt, but but Devon Hall, Isaiah Wilkins and Marial Shayok were all ready to contribute, and a dominant defensive effort against Pitt — one marked especially by 20 points off turnovers — combined with some sharp second half shooting allowed Virginia to turn a two-point game at halftime into an easy, bench-clearing win.