Michael Gbinije struggles against Virginia defense, shoots 2-of-11 in Syracuse loss

first_imgMichael Gbinije stole an errant Virginia pass, passed to Trevor Cooney and darted up the right sideline.As he moved past the Syracuse bench, almost every player, coach and manager left their chairs and when Cooney kicked to him in the corner most of the Carrier Dome stood, too. But Gbinije’s uncontested shot hit the front rim, back rim, then Evan Nolte’s hands on the other side of the basket.The stadium went from elated to deflated with a light flick of his wrist. The Cavaliers kept their 10-point lead and the Orange never got that close again.“I thought he got some good shots but he was 2-for-11,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “So you can either credit their defense or say he didn’t put the ball in the basket.”It looked to be a mix of both — Virginia’s pack-line man-to-man defense taking away Gbinije’s driving lanes while the forward struggled from the outside. Gbinije scored just eight points in 40 minutes of Syracuse’s (18-12, 9-8 Atlantic Coast) 59-47 loss to No. 2 Virginia (28-1, 16-1) on Monday night, making just two field goals while shooting 1-of-6 from 3.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGbinije’s slow night was the first time he’s scored fewer than 10 points since the Orange lost to Miami on Jan. 24, and it came after he shot 5-for-20 in a loss at Duke over the weekend.“They did a great job of helping and recovering,” Gbinije said of what Virginia did to slow him down. “Their rotations are on the money and individually they play good defensively one-on-one.”Boeheim decided to start B.J. Johnson over Kaleb Joseph for the first time this season, which made Gbinije the team’s stand-in starting point guard. Gbinije has handled the ball many times, often at length, this season, but said that doing so against UVA was a challenge.Cavaliers point guard London Perrantes said that Virginia wasn’t placing any special focus on any player but Rakeem Christmas. Still, UVA’s quick hedges on ball screens forced Gbinije away from the basket. And when he did penetrate, he converted on just 1-of-5 two-point shots.“I just tried to force my way in there to try and get a foul or something,” Gbinije said. “They took it away and we had decent looks on the arc and we just have to do a better job of hitting.”With 20 seconds left, Gbinije caught a pass from Chinonso Obokoh at the top of the key and knocked down the 3 he coveted all game. But this one wasn’t capable of swinging the momentum in the Orange’s direction, as UVA still held a 12-point lead and would coast to the finish from there.After the game, Boeheim said that Virginia was undoubtedly the second-best team in the country with the second-best defense — both behind No. 1, undefeated Kentucky.And the Cavaliers’ lockdown of Gbinije, who has been a viable scoring threat in ACC play, was hard evidence of Boeheim’s claim.“Virginia is the kind of team that is going to pick certain guys that they want to take out of the game,” SU assistant coach Mike Hopkins said. “I can’t say that that was the plan with Mike, but they were really hard on him tonight.” Comments Published on March 2, 2015 at 11:30 pm Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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