Five takeaways from Virginia's unceremonious NCAA Tournament loss to Colorado State

The Virginia Cavaliers were unexpectedly eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in a First Four matchup with Colorado State as the Rams jumped out to an early lead on an icy UVA start and didn't let the 'Hoos back into the game. The game wasn't as close as the 67-42 final score indicated, mainly because 15 minutes of garbage time capped off a heartbreaking loss that ended Virginia's first win of the season in the Round of 64. Story of the night: Virginia went 52 minutes without a foul shot from 9:48 EST to 10:40 EST and shot a lousy 25 percent from the floor.

A disappointing end to an inconsistent and ultimately disappointing season, here are five takeaways from the season finale following UVA's final blowout loss in a season of blowout losses:

In the first 20 minutes, the first half of the ice destroyed Virginia

In a season full of bad offensive halves, the Cavaliers laid their biggest egg all year in the first half against Colorado State. The 'Hoos finished the half with just 14 points on an absolutely miserable 5-for-29 from the field, their lowest score of the season. They didn't score a point over the final 9:20 and didn't make a field goal after the 10:30 mark. Eleven of their shots came from midrange and only one went down.

The 'Hoos raced out to a 13-point lead despite a very solid defensive performance. Aided by some completely unforced turnovers by the Rams, UVA held Colorado State to just 27 points in the first half — one of the less efficient scoring halves of the year. Star guard Isaiah Stevens scored just three points, and the Rams took challenging shots essentially all half. Virginia won the possession battle, turning it into CSU's six at one point and limiting the Rams to two offensive rebounds. But that's not all.

UVA's “core three” all struggled to find a rhythm

In what will be the final game of his career at the University of Virginia, Reece Beekman will surely wish he had done more. Defensively, Reese did his usual shutdown and lock down of Isaiah Stevens. But because of the crime, he couldn't buy a basket. Those typical midrange push shots, Beekman typically hits at a recent clip. He missed a few attempts at the rim early on and couldn't function with limited space. And the three-pointer didn't just fall. He finished with 15 points on 4-16 from the floor and four assists off one turnover. On a disappointing night for everyone on the roster, Beekman will be extremely disappointed with the way this game played out. This was not the way he wanted to end an incredible life.

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Virginia's other two “core” players — Ryan Dunn and Isaac McNeely, who have started every available game this season — haven't exactly picked up the slack. Dunn scored the first four points of the game for the Cavaliers and started off very strong defensively, but then disappeared on the offensive end, and foul trouble early in the second half completely negated his impact on the game. Isaac McNeely got off to a cold start and couldn't get anything going all game. Early in the second half, he bricked a perfectly wide 14-footer on a broken play that IMac was making at an 80 percent clip in his sleep. He finished 2-13 from the field with six points.

Role players are unable to shoulder the burden

The Cavaliers have played their best basketball this season thanks to strong role-player performances. Earlier in the year, Blake Buchanan's breakout game led UVA to its best win over Florida. Then, a Jake Groves hot shooting run led the Cavaliers to their eight-game midseason ACC winning streak. Dane Murray began to emerge as a reliable bench scorer, even as the Hoos faltered down the stretch; He served in the starting lineup today.

None of that shines in Dayton. Jake Groves was probably the poster boy for big role-player misses for the 'Who's: He hit a wide-open wing three late in the first half, then air-balled a corner three in the second that might have been UVA's final shot. Start a run and go back into the game. Groves even missed two free throws! But it's by no means fair to pin things on him — an entire lineup of players whose small contributions were crucial to a UVA team starved for any type of offense collectively disappeared against Colorado State. Andrew Rhode, Dane Murray, Jake Groves and Dante Harris went 0-10 from the floor in the first 30 minutes of the game. On a night when UVA needed someone to pick up the slack, no one (outside of a great Jordan Minor spurt for five seconds and a half) rose to the occasion.

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UVA needs to rethink its offensive philosophy

This is a game that should force a reevaluation of Virginia's offensive philosophy. Coaches can't go out and put the ball in the basket for players, but they can put the team in a better position to score than the current mover-blocker system. People like to selectively forget how efficient the Bennett offense was in the mid-2010s, but this is a system that has outlived its usefulness. Virginia spends more time running curls in the midrange or anemic ball perimeter rotation as the basketball moves more and more to move players downhill toward the basket toward more spacing and more ball-screen offenses.

It's okay to play slow and not push in transition as a stylistic choice, but not to score big chunks of the shot clock on every possession. Virginia doesn't have the offensive talent to be a great team on that end of the court, but there's no reason for them to be bad — at the time Kenbaum reflects on this poor outing, UVA is out of the top 200 in offensive efficiency. Tony Bennett's philosophy has brought Virginia to the program's golden age, and many of its tenets — his The back line's defense — and attitude toward basketball in general — can still stand. But the offensive scheme needs innovation to create more action downfield and move the ball into primary, non-middle areas.

Another Virginia Cavaliers basketball season ends in disappointment

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Cavaliers sneaked into the NCAA tournament against popular consensus and had the good fortune to get one last shot at the Big Dance before their season ended. Regardless of whether the Whos deserved their place, they had a chance to wipe away the sour taste. NC State It was left in everyone's mouth with success. Still, it was about the worst possible end to another one-game NCAA Tournament run.

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Since that incredible 85-77 overtime victory in 2019, the Cavaliers haven't won a game in March Madness. It was the least disappointing of the three after that – UVA's team this year isn't as good as Colorado State's, while Virginia certainly should have won 4-straight in 2021 and 2023 against Ohio and Furman. – but it can be very uncomfortable. Worst 14-point half, Virginia's worst in 50-plus games since 2022 ACC Tournament Against North Carolina, the Cavaliers turned into a national joke as the nation tuned in to watch the team go cold all game.

A program doesn't need a national title every year to be successful – there are steps to success. But for the fifth straight season since that magical 2019 run, the UVA basketball season ended on a sour note.

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