The Virginia Cavaliers have looked like a different team lately in the middle of ACC play. The Cavaliers started 1-2 in ACC play with two blowout road losses to the likes of N.C. State and Notre Dame.
The tide seemed to turn for Virginia on January 17th against Virginia Tech where Jordan Minor played his best game of the season. The 6'8 senior provided superb post defense against the Hokies and aided the scoring with 16 points, 5 boards, and 2 steals in a 65-57 win.
Minor has helped patch up Virginia's rebounding woes faced against more athletic teams with his value extending beyond his stats. Minor's ability to box out opposing big men has opened up leading rebounder Ryan Dunn and his ability to go after misses. Dunn has exceeded his rebounding average In 5 of the last 7 games with a season-high 12 in Virginia's overtime win over N.C. State.
Offensively, employing Minor in the lineup has allowed Tony Bennett to more effectively run his traditional "Blocker-Mover" offense. With Virginia previously employing a smaller lineup with forward Jake Groves being the tallest player on the court and not the traditional size of a "blocker" in this offense, the Cavaliers struggled to gain separation with its guards and find open shots.
With the importance of pin-down screens in this offense, having a bigger body like Minor on the floor has helped guards Reece Beekman and Isaac McKneely gain more open looks off of screening actions.
With North Carolina losing on Tuesday night at home against Clemson, Virginia sits in second place very much in striking distance of the ACC regular season title. With games against Duke and North Carolina still remaining it will be interesting to see how the ACC plays out over the next month. Virginia travels to Tallahassee to face Florida State on Saturday night.