Boston College coach Steve Donahue’s “shuffle cut” is considered one of the most intricate and hardest offenses to prepare for.
After a late game Thursday night in Blacksburg, Virginia had exactly 39 hours.
It would take the Cavaliers an additional half to become fully acquainted with it, but when they did, they rolled to a 65-51 victory in front of a crowd of 11,660 at John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday.
“In the second half, we tried to go inside a little more,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, whose team won its third straight game. “Mike [Tobey] gave us a great lift that way and Justin [Anderson] certainly did, too.
“And then [we were] a little more disciplined defensively. They got some good looks in the first half and I thought we were better in the second half of being there on the catch and better on our ball-screen defense and rotations.”
Anderson and Akil Mitchell led Virginia with 16 points apiece, offsetting a sub-par shooting game from leading scorer Joe Harris, who had just seven points.
Virginia (14-5, 4-2), which has put disappointing road losses to Wake Forest and Clemson in its rearview, was a blistering 17 of 22 from the field in the second half and held BC to just 8 of 22 shooting.
Eagles leading scorer Ryan Anderson had 14 points, but was just 5 of 14 from the field.
Mitchell says it took a little time to figure out what BC (9-10, 1-5) was doing offensively.
“They have a lot of misdirection stuff and handoffs and ball screens,” he said. “They slip everything and drop little bounce passes that kind of slip through. Most teams will try to drag ball screens. The way we play it, we jump out so far and they just kind of drop everything under.
“It’s tough to guard, but once you have chance to do it, it become a little easier for you.”
Tied at 31, Virginia went on a 16-4 run to take a 47-35 lead.
Highlights of the surge included a steal by Jontel Evans and dish ahead to a streaking Paul Jesperson for a layup; a baseline turn-around jumper by Tobey; and a 3-point play by Anderson.
“I should have flushed it,” said Jesperson, when asked whether he thought about dunking. “Jontel [Evans] was giving me some [grief] about it in the locker room. I’m going to get one next time.”
“Gosh,” said Evans, shaking his head and smiling. “Paul, he does it in practice when we do drills. A lot of people don’t know how athletic he is. When I threw it to him, I thought he was going to throw it down and he just laid it up. Hopefully, he can get one before the year’s over.”
Jesperson, according to Bennett, had an “understated” performance. Bennett liked his defense (three steals) and work on the boards (seven rebounds).
Freshman Evan Nolte, starting once again for the injured Darion Atkins, was in foul trouble throughout but still managed to finish with nine points on 4 of 5 shooting.
For the second straight game, Bennett chose to play Doug Browman over Teven Jones at back-up point guard.
“I thought he played a good amount of minutes against Tech and was real solid,” said Bennett, referring to Browman. “He’s been in our system. He’s a senior, a fourth-year. With their back cuts and stuff, the way he locked and trailed [Wofford’s Karl Cochran on Dec. 30] — I just thought he’d be good in that situation.
“I thought Doug gave us another nice lift.”
In the first half, Virginia jumped out to an early 12-2 lead before BC rallied to take a 21-17 lead on a 3-point play by Anderson.
A 3-pointer by Lonnie Jackson gave the Eagles a 26-24 lead going into the break.
“Coach [Jason] Williford talked to us in the huddle and just said it was an effort thing,” Jesperson said. “We started getting those loose balls and flying around on defense and good things happened.
“When we get stops on defense, we get that much more momentum and get the crowd into it, and it helps our offense.”
Bennett was very pleased with Anderson’s performance.
“That’s probably the most I’ve seen him around the lane, [making] plays, and some nice drives...,” Bennett said. “He grew up in today’s game.”
The competition will now step up a couple notches when Virginia hosts talented but underachieving N.C. State on Tuesday.
“It feels good to get some momentum going into the game,” Jesperson said. “I feel like we’re playing some pretty good basketball right now.
“But N.C. State is going to be a different team. They’ve got some big guys down low that can really rebound and get some things going offensively. We’re going to have to come out and play our best game.”
Harris tied a career-high with three blocks. He appeared to have notched a fourth, but was called for a questionable basket interference...Virginia has held all six ACC opponents under 60 points... Harris moved into a ninth-place tie with Donald Hand and Todd Billet on Virginia’s career 3-pointers list with 156.