As even-keeled as players come, UVa guard Malcolm Brogdon rarely shows emotion on the basketball court. But there he was Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center, the broadest of smiles spread across his face, his arms raised in triumph, teammates surrounding him. Who could blame him for celebrating? In the final seconds, on a flawlessly executed play in which the Cavaliers used senior guard Joe Harris as a decoy, Brogdon took a pass from freshman point guard London Perrantes and buried an NBA-length 3-pointer. His shot dropped through with four-tenths of a second left, putting Virginia up 48-45 on Pittsburgh, and that's how this ACC game ended in front of a sellout crowd of 12,508. "That's a highlight, for sure," Brogdon said after the first game-winning shot of his career, at any level. "Winning that game is huge. If Joe had hit that shot I would have had the same reaction. It's just huge winning in Pittsburgh. Not many teams can do that." Indeed, the Panthers, ranked No. 17 in the USA Today coaches' poll, have lost at the Petersen Center only 24 times in 12 seasons. Pitt (18-4, 6-3) was 12-1 at home this season entering its Super Sunday showdown with UVa (17-5, 8-1), the ACC's second-place team. Pitt's raucous student section, clad in gold T-shirts, calls itself the Oakland Zoo, and its intensity never waned Sunday. But the Wahoos remained unfazed in their first game in this city since 1976. "They were more physical than us and just out-toughed us," Pitt forward Michael Young said. "Very good team." The victory was the Cavaliers' first this season against a ranked opponent. They're off to their best start in ACC play since 1981-82, when they won 12 of their first 13 league games. Virginia has won five straight games since a four-point loss at Duke on Jan. 13. "This is big for us, and we're just moving on in our conference," UVa big man Akil Mitchell said. "We're just gonna keep rolling." Mitchell, a 6-8 senior, finished with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, his 15th career double-double. Brogdon, a 6-5 redshirt sophomore, led the Cavaliers with 16 points and also contributed five rebounds and four assists, with no turnovers. Moreover, Brogdon spearheaded Virginia's defensive efforts on Pitt star Lamar Patterson - Harris and sophomore swingman Justin Anderson also took shifts on the 6-5 forward - with impressive results. Patterson scored only 10 points, nearly eight fewer than his average. "We said, `We gotta do it collectively,' " Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "When you play a player as good as Patterson, he's got to earn. Make him earn. He doesn't get any free baskets." Harris, a Chelan, Wash., resident, donned a Seattle Seahawks jersey for the trip home. "I gotta represent out here," he said, smiling. Harris battled foul trouble for much of the game but still scored 11 hard-earned points. Anderson supplied a huge lift in the second half, scoring back-to-back baskets after Pitt had gone up three points, and Perrantes had four assists and no turnovers. "A lot of guys stepped up," Bennett said. Like Bennett's teams at Virginia, Jamie Dixon's at Pitt pride themselves on playing rugged defense. This game offered ESPNU viewers a compelling contrast to the Duke-Syracuse shootout that captivated viewers and a record crowd at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night. "It was tough," Mitchell said. "That's what we wanted. That was a lot of fun. It was fun to see a team defend us the way that we would probably defend ourselves. That's Coach Bennett, that's Jamie Dixon." Brogdon's game-winner was Virginia's first field goal since the 8:12 mark, when Harris broke a 38-38 tie with a 3-pointer. Overall, the `Hoos shot 40.4 percent from the floor Sunday; the Panthers, 31.9 percent. Harris made only 4 of 12 shots from the floor. Patterson only 3 of 14. "It was just one of those grinder games," Bennett said. "You could tell after the first five, six minutes, there's not going to be a lot of easy scoring or easy looks." In many ways, Bennett told his players before the game, the teams mirrored each other, and that often seemed to be the case Sunday. "They play really tough-nosed defense, and they take their time on offense," Brogdon said of the Panthers. "And that's why it was such a hard-fought game and so close."
Brogdon's 3 Gives Virginia a 48-45 Win Over Pitt
VirginiaSports.com | Feb 3