On Wednesday night, the fifth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers went on the road to take on Purdue. Despite being ranked, Virginia was a two-point underdog in a rematch from last year’s Elite Eight. The game was expected to be low-scoring with many key players now in the NBA. That held true on the reigning national champion’s side as they lost 69-40 in a blowout.
The game started off strong with bursts of scoring from both teams early on. The first four shots of the game went in with Purdue grabbing a quick 6-5 lead. Virginia went scoreless over the next four minutes while Purdue raced out to an 11-5 advantage before Virginia senior forward, Mamadi Diakite hit a shot to end the drought with 14:10 remaining in the first half.
Over the next 10 minutes and 15 seconds, the Boilermakers went on a 15-2 run to give themselves a lead of 26-11. Diakite, igniting a spark, scored the next six points for the Hoos, closing the gap to 27-15 in less than two minutes. Both teams traded a few shots to make it a 32-17 game at the half in favor of the home team. This was the fewest amount of points scored in an opening half by Virginia all year.
Purdue started the half on an 8-2 run, extending their lead to 21 points. Needing a spark, Virginia big man, Jay Huff, scored his team’s next eight points. That helped close Purdue’s lead to 43-27 with 13:40 remaining in the game. After trading some baskets over the next seven minutes of gameplay, Purdue went on another run, scoring 16 unanswered points. The game was now out of reach for Virginia. They were unable to make a significant comeback all night, and ended up losing 69-40.
Virginia played poorly on both sides of the ball. They were unable to get many open shots and were careless with the ball. The Cavaliers also had a hard time on defense, failing to slow down their opponent all night. Purdue saw their team finish with two 20-point scorers. Sasha Stefanovic scored a career-high 20 points on 6-11 shooting (6-10 from beyond the arc) and Jahaad Proctor also pouring in 20. They had four players score in double digits.
For Virginia, the team’s leading scorers were Jay Huff with 11 and Mamadi Diakite with 10. Virginia shot 16-43 (37%) from the field and only made 4 of their 24 attempts (16%) from three-point territory. In contrast, Purdue went 24-53 (45%) and 13-25 (52%). The Cavaliers were out-rebounded 31-26 and turned the ball over 16 times to Purdue’s 7.
The Cavaliers will travel back home to Charlottesville to take on the sixth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday at 4:00pm. Tony Bennett will need to prepare his team to take on a strong squad, led by freshman sensation, Cole Anthony.
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