Monday’s game was hyped up as the ACC men’s basketball “game of the year.”
No. 7 Virginia and No. 16 Florida State were expected to battle in a nationally televised contest. The Seminoles got the memo. UVa, however, left its best back in Charlottesville.
It was a disappointing road showing Monday for Tony Bennett’s team, which fell 81-60 to the Seminoles. Virginia drops to 15-4 on the season, sporting an 11-2 mark in ACC games. Florida State improves to 12-3 overall and 8-2 in league play.
Here are three rapid takeaways from UVa’s second conference defeat.
Lapses continue against ranked teams
With Monday’s loss, UVa dropped to 0-3 against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
The Cavaliers were blown out by Gonzaga on Dec. 26, losing 98-75 in a game that largely wasn’t competitive. The undefeated Zags are the nation’s No. 1 team.
On Jan. 30, Virginia Tech defeated UVa 65-51 behind a surge in the final 10 minutes. The Hokies are currently ranked 18th.
On Monday, the Seminoles jumped all over UVa. No. 16 Florida State went on a 20-3 run after falling behind 6-2, and they used that run to control the first half. The Seminoles led by 20 points at the break.
UVa didn’t give up, even facing the massive deficit. It opened the second half on an 11-3 run, but the Seminoles responded with a run of its own to stretch the lead back to 20 points with 10 minutes left in the second half.
It’s another double-digit loss against a team currently in the top 25 of the AP poll. There’s no shame in losing to ranked teams, but the Cavaliers have fallen well short in a few of their best opportunities to beat quality teams.
The reigning national champions are good enough to beat ranked teams and beating ranked teams is the standard in Charlottesville. Virginia needs to improve over the next month as it gears up for a potential Final Four run that would likely include games with top-25 caliber teams.
UVa’s defense played exceptionally well against Georgia Tech and North Carolina last week, allowing just 49 points to the Yellow Jackets and 48 points to the Tar Heels.
Florida State scored 45 points in the first half Monday night.
Virginia allowed 44 points in the first half of its loss to Gonzaga in December. The Seminoles surpassed Gonzaga’s first-half scoring mark, becoming the only team to score 45 points in a first half against UVa this season.
Leonard Hamilton’s team boasts incredible length and athleticism, and it led to good looks on offense. The Seminoles shot 53.3% from the floor and 60% from 3-point range in the first half. They racked up nine assists and only turned the ball over three times in the opening 20 minutes.
For the game, FSU shot 50% and tallied 17 assists to just five turnovers. The Seminoles were effective offensively, and the Cavaliers weren’t thrilled with the defensive effort.
FSU’s home ACC winning streak improves to 24 games thanks to the Seminoles’ stellar offensive showing against Virginia’s vaunted defense.
ACC regular-season title in doubt
With just one ACC loss coming into Monday night’s matchup, UVa was well on its way toward winning the conference’s regular-season title. Florida State put that possibility in jeopardy.
The Seminoles moved to 8-2 in the ACC by beating Virginia, tying the Cavaliers in the loss column.
Frequent schedule alterations caused by COVID-19 makes the ACC race tough to track, and it’s likely that teams at the top won’t finish their full 20-game conference schedules.
With FSU and Virginia Tech (8-3 ACC) both in the mix at the top of the conference standings, UVa needs to finish the season strong to earn the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles and Hokies both beat Virginia, giving them the advantage in a potential head-to-head tiebreaker.
Virginia is scheduled to finish its regular season against Duke, N.C. State, Miami and Louisville. The Cardinals are 6-3 in the league.