RALEIGH, N.C. -- Virginia led by 20 late in the second half when a double-team left Memphis’ David Pellom alone with the ball beneath the basket. Pellom rose for a two-handed dunk when Cavaliers forward Justin Anderson rotated in time to block his shot.
The Cavaliers made the Tigers work for everything.
“We knew they were going to try to get us to go a little faster and I feel like they did early,” Virginia guard London Perrantes said. “We slowed down and started to run off the picks like we usually do. They started to wear out pretty early.”
Meanwhile, everything seemed to come fairly easy for the Cavs. They used a 16-2 run to close out the first half, effectively ending any drama about the outcome.
Virginia so thoroughly dominated Memphis in its 78-60 win to advance to the Sweet 16 that the biggest surprise from the Cavs' performance came down to two plays: Evan Nolte’s dunk or Mike Tobey’s 3-pointer.
Nolte, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, is most known for providing a perimeter boost. His back-to-back 3-pointers against Coastal Carolina broke open a tight game and made the Cavs loosen up.
But they don’t call him “Takeoff” Nolte for nothing.
“We call Evan 'Takeoff' because he dunks once every two years,” forward Akil Mitchell said.
Forward Anthony Gill likened the sight of Nolte dunking to an eclipse. With a minute left in the game, Nolte threw down a tomahawk dunk that got the crowd chanting his name.
“That’s probably second to hitting a game winner, dunking on somebody,” Nolte said.
Tobey, a 6-foot-11 sophomore center, missed the only two 3-point attempts he had before Sunday night. He stopped and popped from the top of the key with the Cavs nursing a 23-point lead.
“We were kind of [mad] at first,” Virginia forward Joe Harris said. “We were trying to run offense and run some clock a little bit and Tobey just pulls for 3. You can’t get mad at him when he makes it. It was kind of funny seeing the coaches’ reaction on the bench.”
That look of frustration quickly turned into smiles and laughter when Tobey’s shot was good, which is why Nolte concluded that his dunk was the bigger surprise.
“Tobey can shoot 3s,” Nolte said. “He doesn’t really do it in games, but he can in practice. Next year or the year after he’ll be able to do it in games.”