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When The Threes Flee

Virginia isn’t hitting them and that’s become a real problem.

Syracuse v Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - JANUARY 11: Mamadi Diakite #25 of the Virginia Cavaliers shoots in the second half during a game against the Syracuse Orange at John Paul Jones Arena on January 11, 2020 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

While North Carolina sputters, its struggles attracting national attention highlighted by its stunning late collapse at home against Clemson, Virginia has quietly staggered as well.

Through 15 games as of Jan. 11, Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers had an 11-4 record, most recently marked by consecutive ACC losses at BC and at home against Syracuse. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet that’s more defeats than Bennett’s near-perfect machine incurred in either the 2018 or 2019 seasons, when each Cav squad finished with three losses and topped the ACC regular-season standings.

In 2015 UVa was 30-4 and again finished first. That means the ’20 group already matched or exceeded the program’s defeat total in three of the past five seasons. And the schedule is not quite half-complete.

A key reason for the consecutive ACC losses this month: the Cavs shot a combined 10-47 on threes (.213). As a team they’re hitting at a .269 clip from the bonusphere. That’s worst in the ACC and, as matters now stand, second-worst in the conference since 2000.

In this season of an extended 3-point arc, five ACC teams, a third of the league overall are hitting .301 or worse from long range. Conference squads as a rule are making barely a third of their threes (.335). Three of the four least accurate bonusphere bombing units since 2000 are currently clanging away, five of the worst nine.

Georgia Tech is among the ACC’s least accurate 3-point shooting squads for the fourth time in Josh Pastner’s four years on the job. After 16 games this season the Yellow Jackets are hitting at a .290 rate, down from .307 in 2019 and .318 in 2018. They have yet to reach a breakeven conversion rate under Pastner.

North Carolina weighs in at .295, worst in school history. Still, Virginia is in a misfiring league of its own in 2020 in part because, like UNC, it had to replace key players before their eligibility expired.

In UVa’s case the early departees were a pair of seasoned perimeter shooters. Between them Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, both juniors in 2019, took 62 percent of the Hoos threes and combined to make a shade over 59 percent. (Guy hit 130 of 282 attempts, .426 accuracy, while Jerome converted 79 of 198 tries, .399 efficiency.)

Last year’s Cavs led the ACC from 3-point range, hitting at a .395 rate overall en route to the NCAA title.

Worst 3-Point Accuracy By ACC Teams, Since 2000
(2020 Through Games Of January 11)
3 Pct. School, Season 3FGM-3FGA
.267 Georgia Tech, 2015 131-491
.269 Virginia, 2020 80-297
.290 Georgia Tech, 2020 80-276
.295 North Carolina, 2020 90-305
.2986 Georgia Tech, 2011 192-643
.2990 Clemson, 2015 171-572
.300 Boston College, 2020 105-350
.30097 Syracuse, 2015 155-515
.30112 Pittsburgh, 2020 81-269
.305 N.C. State, 2014 160-525
.3072 Virginia Tech, 2010 157-511
.3075 Louisville, 2015 198-644
.3080 Wake Forest, 2010 134-435
.309 Wake Forest, 2000 159-505
.310 Clemson, 2014 190-613
.312 Georgia Tech, 2012 158-507
.314 Virginia Tech, 2013 182-580
.3151 Georgia Tech, 2014 173-549
.3155 Wake Forest, 2016 195-618
.3157 Virginia, 2009 156-494