Austin Nichols' absence haunts No. 6 Virginia; 24-game home win streak snapped
Bob Huggins' West Virginia Mountaineers did the honors
In a hostile road environment, Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers flexed their muscles in the battle of the Virginias, knocking off the No. 6 Cavaliers 66-57. The win, which ended Virginia's 24-game home win streak, marks WVU's first over an AP top-10 team in a non-conference road game since beating No. 5 Kentucky ... in 1957.
WVU's win over No. 6 Virginia was its first true non-conference road win over an AP Top 10 team since winning at No. 5 Kentucky on 12/20/57— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) December 3, 2016
It was a back-and-forth slugfest in Hooville, as expected. Both teams feature two of the most stout defensive units in the country, and it was a struggle in the second half. There were 15 lead changes and five ties. Down the stretch, WVU went on an 11-2 run while the Cavaliers went 1 of 6 from the field over the final two minutes.
This play was a heartbreaker for Virginia:
We all know Virginia plays defense as well as anyone in the country, but when you don't score a lot of points, or certainly not very quickly, you can't give up possessions, and Virginia coughed up 14 turnovers. They settled for long jumpers and forced 3-pointers, especially late.
They need an extra scorer, clearly. That's where the absence of Austin Nichols, arguably their best player, really showed in this game and will continue to haunt the Cavaliers. Before being dismissed from the program, he was averaging 11 points per game and allowed them to space the floor on offense. They had a more balanced attack down low and he could extend it out to the perimeter with his shooting ability.
This is the recipe to beat Virginia, who is still a legit top-10 team in my opinion.
And West Virginia, by the way, looks pretty good. Currently No. 25 in the country, expect them to rise a decent amount after this win.
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