The 17th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers entered Monday night’s showdown against Maryland sporting the 2nd-best defense in the nation, and when they concluded the night, UVA had lived up to the billing in a significant way. The Cavaliers held the visiting Terps to just 42% shooting from the field and 29% from long range on the way to a 61-53 victory to keep them alive for a high seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
Virginia guard Joe Harris was the best player in the gym on Monday, as he finished with 18 points (including 4-for-7 from 3-point distance) and 4 assists. This is nothing new for Harris, as he has been the main reason that Virginia has been able to maintain even an average offense this season, but with his lights-out shooting combined with their always impressive defense, it’s not a difficult recipe for wins in Charlottesville.
On the Maryland side, it was a game effort. They were within just a few points during the stretch before Virginia ran away a bit in the last 2 minutes for the final margin, and the Terps were able to win the rebounding battle as a way to create additional opportunities. Unfortunately, there were simply no quality scoring chances to be had against the UVA defense, and Maryland couldn’t create consistent opportunities at any stage.
Virginia now sits at a wildly impressive 11-1 in ACC play, and if you squint your eyes, you can see the Cavaliers as a potential #1 or #2 seed when the “big dance” rolls around in a few weeks. It is often said that “defense wins championships” and UVA is in the middle of the ACC race.