CHARLOTTESVILLE — Duke remains the only team in the nation to have beaten Virginia this basketball season.
The No. 3 Cavaliers know they’ll need to be better in their transition defense and rebounding Monday night at North Carolina to keep things that way.
“You don’t have much time,” Bennett said. “We’re going to play Carolina.
“Get yourself ready, grow from this the little bit we can and come out and hopefully be more ready.”
Despite the quick turnaround, Bennett said he would be devoting some time to having his players study the
video of Saturday’s 81-71 loss, because some of the key areas where they struggled to execute will be important again against the Tar Heels on Monday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“I think there’s some stuff that we’ll need to see, that will be important in the Carolina game that have to be fixed, the way they offensive rebound and the way they can pressure,” Bennett said.
U.Va. will need quick fixes to take on North Carolina after loss to Duke
Against the Blue Devils, who had previously beaten U.Va. 72-70 on Jan. 19 in Durham, N.C., Virginia (202, 8-2 ACC) struggled with its transition defense. That gave Duke 17 fast break points and created open looks from 3-point range, before the Cavaliers’ defense could get set.
Virginia also struggled to keep the Blue Devils off the offensive glass, allowing 14 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points.
And for the third straight game, U.Va. had turnover issues, giving the ball away 14 times Saturday. It’s now committed 44 turnovers in the past three games, wins over North Carolina State and Miami, and the loss to Duke.
“Those are the things that before you win, you have to eliminate losing, or be cleaner in those areas,” Bennett said. “It’s transition defense, and it’s limiting their secondchance points and it’s taking care of the ball. To beat a team the caliber of Duke, those things have to be at a high, high level, and I don’t think they were high enough tonight.”
North Carolina (19-4, 9-1), which needed overtime to get by Miami on Saturday, leads the ACC in scoring and rebounding, averaging 88.3 points and 42.9 rebounds. The Tar Heels, who are tied with Duke atop the conference standings, also get 7.8 steals per game, fourth in the league, and force 14.9 turnovers per game.
Cutting down turnovers Monday will be key for Virginia to get the game played at the slower pace it prefers.
“I think we just have to continue working on it,” sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter said. “We turned the ball over a lot the previous two games, and in practice Coach really got on us about it. We’ll just keep working on it.”
Virginia got junior guard Ty Jerome back for the Duke game. Jerome scored 16 points and had four assists after missing the team’s last game, the win over Miami, with a strained back.
Now, it’s unclear if the Cavaliers will have junior forward Mamadi Diakite against North Carolina. Diakite collided with Hunter in the second half of Saturday’s loss, as the two attempted a dribble handoff.
The two players smacked heads, and Diakite did not return to the game.
Bennett indicated the 6-foot-9, 228-pounder was being evaluated for a possible concussion.
“Hopefully, Mamadi will be all right. He took a pretty good blow,” Bennett said. “He was just a little fuzzy. I don’t know. We decided not to put him back in. I don’t know how serious.”
This is U.Va.’s first Big Monday appearance this season, after not having any last season. But the players — who have faced quick turnarounds in regular-season and postseason tournaments — said they know how to handle the challenge and are glad to have another game to play so soon after the Duke loss.
“I think we have experience with that kind of thing,” U.Va. guard Kyle Guy said. “The quick turnaround is good for us.”
Virginia hasn’t lost back-to-back ACC games since dropping four straight in 2016-17.
Duke’s Zion Williamson (1) and Tre Jones pressured Virginia’s Ty Jerome (11) in the first half of the Cavaliers’ ACC loss to the Blue Devils on Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. Jerome scored 16 points and added four assists.
Though he needed to get his team ready quickly for Monday night’s visit to North Carolina, Virginia coach Tony Bennett wanted his team to study video of Saturday’s loss to Duke.
U.Va.’s Mamadi Diakite (center) and teammate De’Andre Hunter (12) collided in the first half Saturday against Duke. Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said Diakite was being evaluated for a possible concussion.