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Virginia’s Three Point Attack: Patient But Deadly

All in all, Bennett’s system is brilliantly conceived and executed.

Virginia Tech v Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - FEBRUARY 01: Ty Jerome #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers shoots a three-pointer over Ahmed Hill #13 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on February 1, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images

Virginia’s success under Tony Bennett is reliant on several well-recognized factors, as well as one that might surprise you.

His Cavaliers have a well-known affinity for stifling opposing attacks, exemplified by posting the ACC’s best team scoring defense every season from 2012 through last year (60.1). Bennett arrived at Charlottesville for the 2010 season.

The Cavs’ field goal defense is similarly exemplary, at or near the best in the ACC year in and year out. Last season it ranked third behind Wake and Duke at .4251.

UVa’s offensive production is, by comparison to its defensive prowess, routinely meek. Last season its 62.4-point average was next-to-lowest in the ACC, exceeding only Pitt. That tepid scoring is not unusual under Bennett.

Yet nestled within the stats is Virginia’s rarely remarked-upon but often impressive group accuracy from 3-point range.

In 2016 it exceeded 40 percent efficiency, best by an ACC team since at least 2010 when Bennett took over the program. Over that span of 13 seasons Virginia paced all league clubs in 3-point accuracy three times – in 2011, in 2016, and 2019 when it captured the NCAA championship.

Last year’s struggle to a sixth-place finish, including a surprisingly unassuming 11-7 mark at home, was shaped in part by .323 shooting from 3-point range.

Only Virginia Tech was more accurate more often from beyond the 3-point arc during the years since 2010, and that was accomplished under a pair of coaches, Buzz Williams (2015-19) and Mike Young (2020 to present).

The other team that repeatedly excelled on making threes over the last 13 years was Duke, which posted the period’s third-best 3-point acuity at .3994 in 2013 and fifth-best in 2014 at .3945. Each of Duke’s marks led the ACC in those respective seasons.

Best 3-Point Accuracy By ACC Teams Since 2010
3Pct Team Season 3Made-3Att
.4029 Virginia 2016 224-556
.4028 Virginia Tech 2017 290-720
.3994 Duke 2013 270-676
.3948 Virginia 2019 321-813
.3945 Duke 2014 316-801
.3935 Virginia Tech 2019 327-831
.3919 Virginia Tech 2022 319-814
.3907 NC State 2013 184-471
.3897 Notre Dame 2015 302-775
.3879 Virginia Tech 2018 289-745
.3877 Virginia 2011 226-583