basketball-men-d1 flag

Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | November 27, 2020

College basketball: San Francisco upsets No. 4 Virginia 61-60 in Bubbleville

San Francisco coach Todd Golden on his team's upset victory over No. 4 Virginia

The college basketball season was only three days old when San Francisco pulled off an upset that could go down as one of the most surprising results of the 2020-21 season. Two days after losing to UMass Lowell in its season opener, San Francisco upset No. 4 Virginia 61-60 in Bubbleville after Virginia forward Sam Hauser's potential game-winning 3-pointer was off the mark in the closing seconds.

Here's how the Dons pulled off the victory.

A huge 3-point shooting disparity

If you want a 10,000-foot synopsis of how San Francisco beat Virginia by one, just look at the 3-point shooting gap between the two squads. The Dons were 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) from three, while the Cavaliers were just 3-for-13 (23.1 percent).

San Francisco played a lot of five-out offense, where the Dons would frequently and intentionally leave the middle of the floor open. This allowed the Dons to spread out the Cavaliers's pack-line defense and prevent help-side defense on drives. If Virginia's defense offered help-side defense, then San Francisco could swing the ball to the open player on the wing whose defender just vacated the area.

MORE: 13 lessons learned in the first 48 hours of the college basketball season 

The Dons were creative with their big men, showing a variety of screen and rolls, slip screens (when a player pretends to set a screen but instead cuts hard to the basket), and roll and replace (where a wing player follows the screen-setter and offers an outlet off of a secondary action).

Most importantly, San Francisco's bigs were able to hit open and contested 3-pointers. Forwards Josh Kunen (2-for-2 from three), Taavi Jurkataam (2-for-4) and Dzmitry Ryuny (3-for-10) combined for seven of the team's 13 3-pointers, and they forced Virginia to defend the entire floor.

The Dons played the 'Hoos to a draw on the defensive glass

Offensive rebounds were a fairly rare commodity in the game. San Francisco grabbed 26 defensive rebounds off of 30 missed shots for Virginia (an 86.7 defensive rebounding percentage), while Virginia had 31 defensive boards on 35 missed shots from San Francisco (an 88.6 defensive rebounding percentage).

A potential downside of playing a five-out or a four-around-one offense like San Francisco is that the opposing defense will often have the inside position for rebounds, so while the Dons had few second-chance scoring opportunities, they put the clamps on such opportunities for the Cavaliers, too.

Limiting Virginia's ball movement on offense

Down the stretch, Virginia's offense appeared stagnant at times. The Cavaliers finished with five assists on 21 made baskets, which marks an assist rate of just 23.8 percent. Virginia point guard Kihei Clark only had two assists compared to three turnovers.

After a 9-0 run from Virginia made it 37-32, San Francisco outscored Virginia 29-13 in the final 11-plus minutes to pull off the one-point win.

The 7 undefeated college basketball national champions in the NCAA tournament era

The 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers are the last DI men's college basketball team to finish with an undefeated season.
READ MORE

San Francisco earns first series victory over No. 2 UCLA in Nino Giarratano's 600th career win

Clutch offense in the late innings and standout relief pitching from two freshmen Sunday lifted the San Francisco baseball team to an 8-3 series-clinching win over No. 2 UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
READ MORE

College baseball scores: San Francisco takes down No. 2 UCLA on Opening Day

San Francisco stunned No. 2 UCLA 6-2 for a 2021 college baseball season-opening win at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
READ MORE
Presented by
Presented by
Presented by

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners