A Good, Old-Fashioned Beatdown

Virginia Tech smoked their in-state rival and kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Breaking down how the Hokies manufactured a dominant win.

Mylyjael Poteat (#34) dunks in the face of Isaac McKneely (#11). [Virginia Tech Athletics]

If I've learned anything in 10-plus years of watching ACC basketball, it would be to savor wins against Tony Bennett's Virginia.

They don't come around too often. Not even in Virginia's recent "down period", where they went from winning a national title to getting Céline Dion'ed by Furman in the first round. UVA has been the bellwether of the ACC for years — accept it or not — which makes it all the more stunning when you put Virginia Tech's 75-41 shellacking of the Hoos in context.

Monday's game was the third-worst loss ever in the Bennett era. It was the biggest win by Tech in the series since 1961. Back then, the Hokies played in War Memorial Hall. Cassell Coliseum was still being constructed. JFK had just been inaugurated, Roger Maris broke baseball's home run record, and Hunter Cattoor began his first season of college basketball.

Performances like that are rare, even against a bad team. It could be a harbinger of things to come — not winning by 30, of course — but playing team defense for 40 full minutes and making the extra pass to find good shots on offense.

Today, the anatomy of a good, old-fashioned beatdown.

Beran' Down

When you think about UVA basketball under Bennett, you think about suffocating defense. That hasn't changed a ton: though the Cavaliers are a far cry from what they were in Bennett's mid-2010s heyday, UVA still ranks 10th nationally in adjusted defense according to KenPom.

It's the offense that has stuck out like a sore thumb. Here's where the Wahoos have ranked in adjusted offense the last five seasons: 234th, 17th, 85th, 72nd, and this year, 170th.

They are, to be polite, an offensively-challenged team. But Tech had a lot to do with that. This was UVA's worst game efficiency-wise all season. It was their second-worst shooting performance and their third-most turnovers (12), surprising for a team that ranks top-10 nationally in offensive turnover rate.

To see why, let's start with the play of Reece Beekman. MJ Collins had the primary assignment on Beekman, the Cavaliers' leading scorer and far and away their highest-usage player. (As reliant as the Hokies are on Sean Pedulla, UVA is arguably even more reliant on Beekman). Granted, he's not a super efficient scorer — defense has always been his calling card — but coming into the matchup he averaged seven made field goals per game.

Collins (#2) did a great job chasing Beekman (#2) around the court, fighting through screens and holding him to a 3-of-10 shooting performance.

This particular play I thought was Tech's best defensive possession.

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