That was a fun game to watch. Both teams shot the ball very well, and there weren't many turnovers or many fouls. It was just a fast-paced entertaining game. The game opened up with a couple of fouls in the opening two or three minutes, but after that play went uninterrupted all the way to the 11:32 mark. You don't get to see uninterrupted play like that very often in the modern world of college basketball, not with media timeouts every four fucking minutes. So it's really entertaining to watch a free flowing game with no stoppages in play.
There actually wasn't a single turnover from either team in the opening ten minutes of the game. And the Tigers finished with just 4 turnovers in the game, one of the lowest totals in school history. Tanner's stellar play (no TOs) had a lot to do with this, as did the suspension of Milton Jennings.
So we didn't turn the ball over, we didn't foul much, and we shot well at the free throw line (9-11). We played well. Well enough to win, if not for the following:
1. We got killed on the boards. 31-17!!!
We didn't miss Milton's turnovers, but we probably would have pulled down more rebounds if he was in the lineup tonight. Jennings' struggles have been very well documented, so it's sometimes easy to forget that he's statistically one of the best rebounders on the team.
2. Another one of our signature scoring droughts.
Tanner and Booker teamed up to give us 5 points in the opening 1:27 of the 2nd half, but then we went dormant on offense for a while. The Cavs took advantage and went on a 19-3 run over the next 8+ minutes. And the only points for us in that span was a 3 from Devin. On an unrelated side note, Devin, after making only 3 treys all season, made 2 tonight (2-4), with the other one coming late as we desperately tried to get back in it.
3. Mike Scott and Joe Harris.
The duo combined for 42 of the Cavs' 65 points. Part of that is simply because the two (Scott in particular) are simply amazing basketball players, but part of the blame can also be put on our soft outside defense. Yes, Sammy Zeglinski really struggled tonight (1-7 from 3), but I chalk this up to the fact that the guy has been such a streaky shooter. It was really lucky for us that he had such an off night, because we didn't exactly play the best perimeter D tonight. Joe Harris went off on us (5-6 from 3), and Mike Scott hit wide open mid-range jumpers all game long. It was annoying to see Scott, who is widely regarded as one of the best players in the conference, get open so many times. There were so many times when Scott got open about 15 feet from the basket and just knocked down the easy wide open jumper. Some of these came because Bobo wasn't following him closely enough, and a few others came because Devin didn't rush out to guard him when he got open-he instead opted to sort of jog out there half-heartedly.
So it sucks to see us lose, but all in all, I was pretty happy with our performance tonight. We played with a lot of energy tonight.
Tanner went off tonight. Before he missed a desperation heave with less than five seconds in the game, he was a perfect 4-4 from outside the arc, including at least one that was probably NBA range with a hand in his face. He was also drove to the hoop a few times tonight, which was refreshing considering we haven't seen that out of him as much lately.
Devin seems to be playing better of late on offense. I don't know what it is, just a general feel that the guy is playing with more fire than before. He's doing a better job of attacking the basket, in my opinion, (4-4 at the free throw line, by the way) and is not settling for as many silly hook shots. He needs to do a better job of holding on to the ball when it's passed to him though; two times tonight, he just flat out dropped it (and these weren't ridiculously hard, crisp passes; these were passes that he should have caught). He may have taken more 3s than some would like, but my general rule of thumb on outside shots is to only criticize if the guy misses them-and tonight Book made them.
Andre, after some REALLY hot shooting, the last couple of games, had a really bad shooting night (1-6 from 3). I think part of the problem was that, due to UVA's D, he wasn't able to get off as many open looks as usual, but then again, the D didn't really do much to deter Devin and Tanner.
A quick note about the freshmen before I wrap this up. When the mass substitution at the 11:32 mark put in Devin Coleman, Rod Hall, KJ McDaniels, and Bernard Sullivan (along with Book), we struggled a bit offensively. Although KJ shined in a limited role once again. In just 8 min.s on the court he pulled down 3 rebounds and scored 4 points. Not super-star numbers, mind you, but very very solid.