UVA Basketball: Mike Scott's Failure Will Lead to Greater Success

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IFebruary 25, 2012

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 12:  Mason Pumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils blocks a shot by Mike Scott #23 of the Virginia Cavaliers during play at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 12, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 61-58.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It had to be one of the most frustrating games in Mike Scott's career.

The fifth-year senior captain of the Virginia Cavalier basketball team has been a symbol of greatness for the emerging program.

Scott started the year with less than 1,000 career points and is now 19th all-time in Virginia career scoring. He came into 2011 with multiple surgeries on his ankle and has turned in an MVP performance.

All the pressure has been on Scott. A program desperately seeking the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 has only one consistent scorer.

He has not had to carry the load; he has had to lift the team to a 21-6 record.

After Virginia's first double-digit loss of the season to North Carolina, Scott was clearly frustrated by the lack of a supporting cast.

Well this afternoon, in the rematch with the Tar Heels, the co-stars stepped up and for the first time all season Scott could not deliver his leading role performance.

Mired by foul trouble, Scott never found the rhythm that typically came so naturally to him in ACC games. He finished the game 3-of-13 for six points, seven rebounds and four fouls.

The last number was perhaps the most significant. Not only did it hold Scott to only 22 minutes of playing time, it also cost him effectiveness on the defensive end.

The sporadic play cost Scott a chance to turn things around in the second half when he finally began to attack the basket.

In the final minute, Scott not only missed a wide open three-pointer to potentially take the lead but also could not put his body on Tyler Zeller to try to slow down his dunk that built the eventual 54-51 margin in the waning seconds.

Indeed, Scott had a chance to essentially win ACC Player of the Year with a strong performance and victory tonight. Instead, Zeller's 20 points and six rebounds may have clinched him the honors.

The frustration was evident for everyone but particularly Scott. The big man has the highest shooting percentage in the ACC this season, shooting 177-of-301 from the floor.

Yet against the big bodies of Carolina, Scott has been 12-of-30 from the floor and 0-for-2 on the scoreboard.

However, that loss may have been just as significant as a victory for Scott and the Cavaliers.

With Scott's talent, this loss was fuel him for the most important part of the season. He will want to prove to everyone that this game was a fluke, and he has the ability to finish his senior year on a high note.

More importantly, Virginia's supporting cast has to be feeling better about themselves after their great effort fell just short.

Small forward Joe Harris, who broke his hand against Carolina two weeks ago, appears to be getting healthier by the game and played an amazing game on both offense and defense on Saturday.

Point guard Jontel Evans had a game-high 13 points by finally converting some of those running hook shots. We all know about the speed and defensive ability of the junior, but when he can make some shots, Virginia's offense opens up.

True freshmen Malcolm Brogdon and Paul Jesperson are both playing with confidence and tenacity on both ends, providing desperately needed minutes off the bench.

However, Virginia's biggest enigma remains to be Sammy Zeglinski. The senior guard has been all over the place and quite the point of discussion by Cavalier fans.

Nevertheless, Scott's answer to his questionable Saturday performance will undoubtedly prove emphatic.

His season is not done yet, and that frustration will provide the fire to help push Virginia toward surprising some people before this season is said and done.