RALEIGH, N.C. – Virginia has spent the complete season punishing opponents by locking down on them defensively or forcing them to guard their regular-paced offense till deep within the shot clock.
Mistakes add up, the frustration builds and the Cavaliers capitalize – a withering formula that now has Tony Bennett’s club following its Atlantic Coast Conference championship with its deepest NCAA Tournament push in twenty years.
Joe Harris scored sixteen factors and prime-seeded Virginia shot 56 percent to beat Memphis seventy eight-60 on Sunday evening, earning its first trip to the round of sixteen since 1995.
Anthony Gill added thirteen factors for the Cavaliers (30-6), who turned in a dominating performance whereas controlling the tempo and shutting down the eighth-seeded Tigers (24-10) at nearly every flip.
”Of course we try to come out and impose our will from the beginning,” said sophomore Malcolm Brogdon, certainly one of 5 Cavaliers in double figures. ”But when that doesn’t occur and we do not break them right off the bat, we’ll keep going and hold playing our sort of protection and offense.
”And in some unspecified time in the future, we will put on them down and break their back.”
Virginia led by 15 at halftime and pushed that to 27 points late, selecting up proper where it left off in its sturdy finish to Friday’s win against Coastal Carolina.
It’s already been the program’s most successful season in a long time, from successful this system’s first ACC event title since 1976 to tying the school single-season file for victories Sunday night. Now Virginia has another milestone: its first regional semifinal appearance since making it to a regional remaining in 1995.
And the Cavaliers, carrying a No. 1 seed for the primary time because the days of Ralph Sampson, look ready to go even farther.
Subsequent up is a visit to New York to face fourth-seeded Michigan State (28-eight) on Friday night in the East Regional semifinals at Madison Sq. Backyard.
”To get to the Candy 16, that’s the rarefied air of school basketball, and you’re going to must play,” Bennett said. ”We know who’s waiting, we all know how good they are, and it is going to be us making an attempt to test our recreation towards one of the groups that’s playing its finest basketball proper now.”
On top of that, it is Virginia – not conventional powers Duke and North Carolina or league newcomer Syracuse – that stands as the one ACC team nonetheless alive in the round of sixteen.
The explanations had been all on display against a Memphis crew keen to hurry up the Cavaliers and score in transition to avoid Virginia’s stingy set defense.
As a substitute, the Cavaliers checked practically every part off their to-do list, steadily overpowering the Tigers with assured efficiency.
They knocked down open appears to be like. They performed powerful in the paint to contest Tigers drives. They patiently ran their offense and snatched down each free rebound when the Tigers missed possibilities to cut into the deficit.
”That is just the way in which we play,” Harris said. ”If individuals are not accustomed to watching us, we love to just grind it out. We love the lengthy defensive possessions. We love just making groups work when they’re defending us. It is simply form of what Virginia basketball is all about.”
There was no sign of the Virginia team that regarded out of kinds while falling behind by 10 in the first half towards the sixteenth-seeded Chanticleers. Solely the one which put Coastal Carolina away within the last 9 minutes.
Whereas Harris led the offensive effort, Virginia additionally had a forty-28 rebounding advantage whereas backed by a loud crowd full of Cavs followers who made the drive one state south for the beginning of the event push.
Austin Nichols scored 15 factors to steer the Tigers, who shot forty one p.c – including three of 13 from 3-point range – and scored 17 factors fewer than their season common. Leading scorer Joe Jackson, who was averaging 14.3 factors, completed with seven on three-for-6 capturing.
”They’ve got to be the perfect defensive team I’ve ever played against in faculty,” Jackson mentioned. ”They never lose sight of the basketball, and so they just help each other out on each possession. You’ll never get an easy layup on them.”
Memphis was looking for its first journey to the spherical of 16 since 2009, John Calipari’s ultimate year as coach earlier than Josh Pastner took over. Senior Geron Johnson promised shortly after the American Athletic Convention tournament that this year can be totally different and the Tigers would get two NCAA wins.
Instead, their season ended on the event’s opening weekend for the fourth straight year.
”Virginia came out, played Virginia basketball: out-toughed us, out-aggressived us,” Johnson mentioned. ”They made shots. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it with a bucket. There is not any excuses. They beat us truthful and square.”