Baylor coach: UVA’s different style, different offense, extremely effective

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Armaan Franklin (Photo: UVA Athletics)

Virginia’s basketball team made a strong impression on No. 5 Baylor’s coach, Scott Drew, on Friday, when the No. 16 Cavaliers pulled off an 86-79 upset over the Bears in the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas.

UVA blitzed the Bears in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, outscoring Baylor 30-5 to blow open the game. The Cavaliers, 3-0 on the season, will take on Illinois in Sunday’s championship (3 p.m. ET).

“[Virginia] played harder than us for 10 minutes and that can’t happen,” Drew said of the Cavaliers’ second-half start. “We can’t let people dictate things on both sides of the court. Defensively, they were turning us over and offensively, they were getting good shots. If we’re not operating on offense, we have to at least get stops on defense so we can get easy buckets on offense.”

UVA, which was a 4.5-point underdog going into the game, scored 56 points in the second half, shot 56 percent from the field and 64 percent from the 3-point line, and made 27 of 35 free-throw attempts. The Cavaliers forced Baylor into 13 turnovers in a meeting of two of the past three national champions.

“They sure did not miss much, and credit them for getting good looks and making them,” Drew said of the Cavaliers. “I thought we played harder after that (UVA scoring splurge) and did a good job of getting back into it, but for those first 10 minutes we did not play the way we need to play at this level. Credit Virginia, because they were a different style and a different offense and were extremely effective.”

While UVA is often criticized for its deliberate play and low-scoring games, consider that the Cavaliers have played three games this season and have already posted 89 and 86 points. The last Virginia team to do that won the national championship in 2019.

Virginia was paced by Armaan Franklin, who scored a career-high 26 points and was 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Afterward, Franklin said that he felt the Cavaliers were well-prepared to face Baylor because of the extra preparation time. UVA canceled its home game against Northern Iowa this past Monday in the wake of the tragic shootings that claimed the lives of three members of the Virginia football team.

Coach Tony Bennett paid tribute to the fallen players after the game.

“We know the pain and grief that so many are going through … You [the team] honored the right things … I want that [Virginia football] coaching staff and those players to know how much we love them and are with them,” Bennett said.

UVA will face No. 19 Illinois, which upset No. 8 UCLA in Friday night’s other game. The Illini and Cavaliers have never faced each other in basketball.

Illinois was led by senior guard Terrance Shannon, who scored 29 points and tied a program record with eight 3-pointers.

The two teams do share a common opponent, Monmouth. UVA defeated King Rice’s Monmouth team, 89-42, and put up 13 made 3’s last week, and three days later, Illinois topped Monmouth, 103-65. Shannon was the high scorer in that one with 30.