PITTSBURGH — Malcolm Brogdon’s teammates still bring up the winning 3-pointer he drilled at Pittsburgh two years ago, the one that game in the middle of a 13-game winning streak that propelled Virginia to the ACC title.
That run served as the launching pad that returned the Cavaliers to the conference’s elite — one that shows no signs of abating.
There were no heroics needed when Brogdon and No. 9 Virginia returned to the Petersen Events Center on Saturday. The Cavaliers are too good at the moment to worry about the erratic Panthers keeping it close. Brogdon scored 21 points, and London Perrantes added 14 points in a relatively easy 64-50 win.
The Cavaliers (19-4, 8-3 ACC) have won six consecutive games and haven’t lost in four games to the Panthers since they made the move from the Big East to the ACC in 2013. Suddenly, Virginia’s early January stretch in which it dropped three of four seems like a distant memory.
“Since then we’ve come a long way,” Brogdon said. “We’ve turned a new leaf. We’re just trying to build our momentum.”
Jamel Artis led Pitt (17-5, 6-4 ACC) with 17 points and Michael Young had 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Panthers again struggled to keep up with a quality opponent. All five of Pitt’s losses have been by at least 13 points. The Panthers are 0-3 against ranked teams this season.
“We can say we’re a great team, we’ve got to go out and do it on the court,” Artis said. “We didn’t prove nothing yet to nobody.”
Brogdon went off early, scoring 14 points in the first 20 minutes during a taut and entertaining back-and-forth with Young and Artis.
When Sheldon Jeter’s putback knotted the score at 31-31 a minute into the second half, the raucous black-clad Pitt student section came to life.
Just as abruptly, the Cavaliers took over.
Brogdon hit a 3-pointer and Devon Hall followed with one of his own at the end of a possession that perfectly encapsulated what Virginia does so well. Perrantes had the ball on the wing in transition and could have taken a wide open 3-pointer. Instead, the ACC’s leading 3-point shooter pulled the ball down and the Cavaliers ran their offense to get Hall a wide-open 23-footer that he calmly drilled.
“Turning that down and getting another bucket, that’s not bad,” Perrantes said. “Nobody cares about their stats. We just have players who want to win.”
Perrantes followed with a 3-pointer of his own on Virginia’s next trip and when Hall hit an acrobatic lay-up while getting fouled, the ensuing free throw put the Cavaliers up, 43-31. Pitt never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
“We knew we could get what we wanted on the offensive end,” Perrantes said. “We knew the shots were going to fall and we kept pushing it out, kept our feet on the pedal.”
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