By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The humidity inside the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center sapped the energy of both teams Saturday night, as did the 50 minutes they battled in an ACC men’s basketball game that needed two overtimes to produce a winner.
“Both teams were kind of going on fumes at the end,” UVa head coach Tony Bennett said.
When the final horn at last sounded, though, the third-ranked Cavaliers celebrated a gritty victory — and a milestone — and Miami rued a missed opportunity.
The win over the Hurricanes in this city was the first (in seven attempts) for Virginia, which prevailed 89-80.
“I’m happy to be a part of that,” said junior swingman Justin Anderson, who scored six points in the final 20 seconds of the first overtime to force another extra period.
In the second OT, Miami opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, but Virginia responded with an 8-0 run. Once the Wahoos regained control of their ACC opener, they refused to relinquish it and won going away.
“We put ourselves in that situation, and I’m glad we got ourselves out,” point guard London Perrantes said after scoring 26 points — 11 more than his previous career high — and handing out eight assists.
Perrantes, a sophomore who scored 15 points against Miami last season, made a career-high five 3-pointers Saturday, including two in the final 2:02 of the second half.
His timing was impeccable on a night when All-ACC guard Malcolm Brogdon fouled out on a dubious call with 2:23 to play in regulation.
“I didn’t want to have to do it,” Perrantes said, smiling. “I told Malcolm to stay in the game. I didn’t want to have to do all that extra stuff. I was cool with my nine points and eight assists, but then it turned into 26.”
Before Saturday, Perrantes had not scored more than seven points in a game this season, and he was 5 for 21 from beyond the arc.
Walking out of Virginia’s shootaround Saturday morning at Miami’s arena, Bennett had mentioned Perrantes’ shooting to a colleague.
“I just said, `Boy, it would be big if we can get London knocking down some of those shots, because we’ve seen him do it,” Bennett recalled. “We needed it all [against Miami].”
With the victory, the `Hoos improved to 13-0 for the first time since 1980-81. They earned it the hard way. Virginia led 38-20 at intermission Saturday night, only to unravel in the second half against the re-energized `Canes (10-4, 0-1).
Miami needed less than 11 minutes to cut its deficit from 18 points to two.
“We were very unsound in certain areas,” Bennett said.
Even so, UVa could have won in regulation. With 5.5 seconds remaining in the second half, junior forward Evan Nolte went to the line for two free throws. The `Hoos led 63-60, and had Nolte made even one foul shot, that probably would have sealed the victory.
“It was there for the taking,” Bennett said.
Alas for the `Hoos, Nolte missed both free throws, and the `Canes capitalized on their reprieve. With nine-tenths of a second to play in regulation, official Jamie Luckie called a foul on Anderson, who had contested a 3-point attempt by Miami guard Angel Rodriguez (25 points).
Rodriguez calmly made all three free throws. The crowd of 5,377 included many UVa fans, but their Miami counterparts were the louder group as the teams headed to overtime.
“Man,” Anderson said, shaking his head. “I guess I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation in the first place, maybe by not closing out as hard as I did. But with a guy like Rodriguez, you’ve got to close out on him, because he’s a big-shot guy. And I just wanted to get a block, and I actually thought we had the game secured.”
With his team up three points, Bennett said after the game, he considered fouling the `Canes before they could get off a 3-point attempt, but decided against that strategy.
“We work hard on not fouling 3-point shooters,” he said. “That’s something we really practice a lot.”
In the first overtime, Miami went ahead for the first time since early in the first half, and Virginia trailed by four when Anderson went to the line with 20.6 seconds left after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Three free throws later, it was 69-68. Rodriguez answered with two foul shots at the other end, and Bennett called a timeout to set up a play. Perrantes flipped the ball to Anderson near the top of the key. Anderson dribbled to his left, running his defender into a pick set by 7-0 junior Mike Tobey, and then rose for a 3-pointer.
“When I felt it leave my hand, it felt pretty good, and I’m happy that it went down for my team,” Anderson said.
His trey made it 71-71 with 12.1 seconds to left, and Miami’s attempt at a game-winner came after the horn sounded.
In overtime, Anderson said, he was determined to redeem himself for his pivotal foul on Rodriguez.
“It was a new game, it was a new five minutes, and that’s what I had to tell myself,” Anderson said. “Especially with Malcolm fouling out, I had to say, Hey, look, five more minutes, and let’s play our type of basketball and get back in the groove,’ and I thought we did a great job doing that.”
Anderson, who had only one point in the first half, finished with 16.
“Justin, he did some good things, and just like all of our guys, he had some breakdowns that cost us,” Bennett said. “But definitely, for him to step up and make that shot [in the first OT] was huge, and he was active.”
In the second OT, senior big man Darion Atkins scored four points, Tobey and Anderson had two apiece, and Perrantes went 9 of 10 from the line to seal the victory for the Cavaliers.
Tobey, coming off a subpar performance in Virginia’s win over Davidson, contributed 14 points and six rebounds, and the 6-8 Atkins sparkled in 31 minutes off the bench, scoring eight points, grabbing a career-high 12 boards and making it difficult for the `Canes to get to the rim late in the game.
Another standout was swingman Marial Shayok, a 6-5 freshman who matched his career high with nine points. Shayok scored only one point in the overtime periods, but he played smart, aggressive defense on the 5-11 Rodriguez.
“It was a good learning experience for me, playing in that type of environment in my first ACC game,” Shayok said. “It was just great. My teammates gave me the confidence to just stay level-headed and play with confidence.”
With Brogdon in foul trouble much of the game, Perrantes said, “I definitely felt like somebody needed to step up, and Marial really stepped up, playing good defense, knocking down big shots and just playing well offensively.”
Shayok played a career-high 31 minutes. “Wow,” Bennett said, glancing at the box score. “That was a good opportunity [for Shayok].”
From 3-point range, Shayok was 2 for 4, and Anderson was 2 for 5. Perrantes was 5 for 9, a reminder of the marksmanship that helped Virginia sweep the ACC titles and advance to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen in 2013-14.
Perrantes “lit it up,” Atkins said. “He came to play, and he took the challenge head on with Rodriguez.”
The `Hoos met the challenge, too, after some anxious moments.
“You don’t want to think you’re going to lose, but you’re kind of getting a little worried,” Tobey said. “But definitely I think we did a really good job of pulling it out and showing our toughness.”
Atkins said: “We got a lot out of this. It’s a great experience. It just shows that we’re a composed team and we’re poised and we did what we had to do to [win].”
Losses Saturday by Villanova, TCU and Colorado State left only three unbeaten teams in Division I: Virginia, top-ranked Kentucky and No. 2 Duke. That’s good company for the Cavaliers to keep. Still, they’re far from perfect, and they know it.
“There’s some stuff to clean up, but there’s also some stuff certainly to like,” Bennett said. “That’s probably kind of who we are. We’ve got a lot of warts, but a lot of good things too.”
UP NEXT: In its ACC home opener, Virginia faces NC State at 7 p.m. Wednesday at John Paul Jones Arena. ESPN2 will televise the game.
The Wolfpack (11-4 overall) improved to 2-0 in the conference with a 68-50 victory Saturday afternoon over Pittsburgh in Raleigh, N.C.
UVa has won six of its past eight meetings with the Pack.
About 1,000 upper-level tickets remain for the NC State game. Tickets are $20, $30 and $40, depending on seat location.
Tickets can be purchased online at VirginiaSports.com. To buy tickets over the phone, call (800) 542-8821 or (434) 924-8821. Tickets also can be purchased at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium.