UVA is nation’s No. 4 team in 3-point percentage; No. 2 in free-throw attempts per game

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Armaan Franklin (Photo by Jon Golden)

There were stretches last season when Virginia couldn’t buy a 3-point bucket. My, how things have changed.

After scoring a pair of wins over No. 5 Baylor and No. 19 Illinois in last weekend’s Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas, the Cavaliers emerged as one of the nation’s top bombers. UVA connected on 9 of 14 attempts from beyond the arc in its upset over Baylor, but returned to Earth against Illinois, making 5 of 17.

Still, that’s good enough to place the Cavaliers at No. 4 in the nation in team 3-point field goal accuracy. Virginia has made 38 of 81 triples, a 46.9 percentage, which makes Tony Bennett’s preseason statement somewhat prophetic.

“I’d like to say I think we will shoot the ball a little better than last year,” the UVA coach said on media day earlier this month. “Obviously, that can come and go, but I think that’ll have to be a strength of ours.”

Virginia has five players that are proficient in shooting from long range.

Armaan Franklin, who struggled with his shot most of last season, has been Virginia’s most lethal from behind the arc. Franklin has connected on 10 of 22 attempts (45.5 percent). Prior to Sunday’s game against Illinois (which keyed on not allowing Franklin to bomb them), the UVA guard was shooting better than 50 percent from the perimeter, having made 9 of 17 at that point (52.9 percent).

Reece Beekman and freshman Isaac McKneely are actually making a higher percentage of 3-pointers, but on less attempts. Both guards are shooting 50 percent from the arc (6 of 12).

Another guard, Kihei Clark, is 7 of 15 (46.7 percent), and transfer wing Ben Vander Plas is 6 of 13 (46.2).

Not only has Virginia been red hot from the 3-point arc, but the Cavaliers have been deadly from in close as well, like from the free-throw line.

UVA is No. 2 in the nation in free-throw attempts per game, having made 90 of 122, and averaging 30.5 foul shots per contest.