Virginia's Perrantes struggling to rediscover shooting touch
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Virginia scoring leader London Perrantes is frustrated and searching for answers.
The team's lone scholarship senior is in the midst of the worst shooting slump of his college career, and his offensive woes are a major reason the 18th-ranked Cavaliers are mired in their first four-game losing streak since 2009-10.
During the skid, Perrantes has made just 16 of 58 shots (27.6 percent), including 5 of 28 3-point attempts (17.9 percent). After shooting 42.7 percent from 3-point range in his first three seasons, and 48.8 percent last year, he's at a loss to explain the problem.
''I wish I knew. I wish I knew what was getting me out of rhythm so I could fix it,'' Jones said after missing 13 of 15 shots against Miami, including all five 3-point attempts. ''I'm in a pretty deep slump right now and I need to figure it out and find a way to get over it.''
Virginia (18-9, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) hopes he breaks out of the slump at North Carolina State (15-14, 4-12) on Saturday. The Wolfpack is coming off a road win at Georgia Tech , the team's first victory in eight games.
Perrantes is drawing more defensive attention this season because he's Virginia's most accomplished scorer. Though he leads the Cavaliers in scoring (12.3) and minutes played (32.0), Perrantes said his struggles are ''messing with me mentally, but I'm trying to stay as up as I can for the team and trying to move forward.''
Coach Tony Bennett seemingly never experienced what Perrantes is going through. Bennett, a left-handed shooter in his playing days, still ranks as the NCAA's career leader in 3-point percentage at 49.7 for Green Bay, and he has no magic answers.
''You just keep plugging,'' the coach said. ''That's all you can do.''
During the losing streak, which includes a double-overtime loss at Virginia Tech and an overtime loss to Miami , Perrantes has averaged 37.5 minutes. He played 46 in Blacksburg, where what looked like a potential game-winning basket came to rest on the plate connecting the rim to the backboard. Bennett said that after 27 games, it's the time of the season when tired legs can become a factor down the stretch.
''Fatigue is going to be part of it at this time of year,'' Bennett said after Perrantes played all but five minutes against the Hurricanes. ''You know, you're so close and it messes a little bit with our guys' minds.''
Perrantes did get something of a pep talk from former teammate Malcolm Brogdon before the Miami game. Brogdon, last year's ACC player of the year, was in town during the NBA All-Star break for the ceremony to retire his number.
''I know leading a team in the ACC, in the spotlight, on the stage every night, it's hard, it's tough and you have to have mental toughness to do that. You have to have perseverance,'' Brogdon said. ''And I think he has all those things. That's why I think this team is going to be OK ... They're going to bounce back.''
The words, Perrantes said, ''helped until I went out there and couldn't make a bucket.''
Besides shooting poorly from the field, Perrantes also missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity in regulation against the Hurricanes.
''I've just got to keep that in the back of my mind,'' Perrantes said of the encouragement from Brogdon, now with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. ''Coach Bennett always says the sun is going to come up in the morning, so hopefully my shot comes up in the morning, too.''
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