Bounce-back bid

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS - BY MIKE BAR­BER

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.

MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

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.

MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

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.

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