Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points and the trio of Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey and Darion Atkins combined for 28 points and 19 boards on 11-for-18 shooting as No. 3 Virginia knocked off No. 9 Louisville, 52-47.
Louisville finished the first half with just 13 points, going scoreless for nearly 11 minutes to end the period. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Rick Pitino’s team would struggle with Virginia’s Pack-Line defense. The goal of the Pack-Line is to force dribble penetration into the teeth of the defense, the Pack, where all of the help is. Louisville’s offense is largely built around allowing Terry Rozier and Chris Jones to makes plays off the dribble, either in ball-screens actions or in 1-on-1 settings.
It’s what the Cardinals have to do with this roster. Pitino doesn’t really have a choice. There is not enough perimeter shooting and Montrezl Harrell, as talented as he is, is not a threat to score with his back to the basket. It limits options, and that’s becoming quite evident when you look at Louisville’s box scores.
Rozier had 16 points on Saturday night. Harrell had 12. Jones had 11 and Wayne Blackshear added eight. I’ll do the math for you: That’s all 47 of Louisville’s points, and it’s the second straight game when the Cardinals only put four players into the scoring column. Chinanu Onuaku was the last player to score for Louisville that was not one of those four, and that was a free throw with more than three minutes left in regulation of the win over North Carolina last weekend, more than 88 minutes ago. The last field goal was from Shaqquan Aaron at the 15 minute mark of the second half of the UNC game, more than 100 minutes ago.
We’ve long said that for the Cardinals to be real contenders this season, they needed to find a way to develop a supporting cast. They’ve yet to do that with any kind of consistency.
The win puts the Cavs in a commanding position in the ACC race. They currently hold a two-game lead over Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame and North Carolina, with a visit to Louisville being the only game they have remaining on their schedule against one of the league’s top five teams. If Tony Bennett’s club is going to somehow lose the regular season, someone is going to have to pull off a fairly shocking upset.