Stop, Rewind: UMBC exploited Virginia’s interior defense in unprecedented victory

Now that we have all had a day or two to unwind after UMBC’s unprecedented upset over No. 1 Virginia, let’s take note of a key trend from this games.

Everything went right for UMBC; the Retrievers shot incredibly well from beyond the arc — 12-of-24 (3P%) — and UVA cratered — just 4-of-22 (18.2 3P%).

However, another area Virginia’s seemingly impenetrable defense fell short: paint protection.


Behind the madness

Led by Isaiah Wilkins, Virginia’s defense dominated in the paint this season. The Cavaliers rank third nationally in opponent two-point field goal percentage: 42.8 percent. On post-up attempts, opponents scored just 0.53 points per possession, per Synergy Sports — second best in the nation.

Well, Friday night in Charlotte, that script flipped, too. UMBC posted an effective shooting rate of 66.7 percent — by far the highest UVA allowed all season.

According to Synergy, UMBC went 10-of-14 (71.4 FG%) on non-post-up attempts around the basket — 8-of-12 (66.7 FG%) in the half-court. Jairus Lyles, who had an out-of-body experience that night, led the way. Lyles was 3-of-3 on these type of shot attempts.

The impact of no De’Andre Hunter was of course a factor; Virginia downsized and played with Devon Hall as the de facto 4, too. Perhaps that level of change caused additional discomfort. Perhaps it was just UMBC’s night.

On the season, Virginia opponents shot just 49 percent on non-post-up attempts at the basket, per Synergy. It’s hard to find high-percentage looks against UVA’s Pack Line; even when opponents got to those spots on the floor, they were met with resistance.

UMBC turned that paradigm on its head in Charlotte. College basketball is forever different because of it.


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