The Cavaliers struggled to score for long stretches Monday night, but had their defense to thank for keeping Pittsburgh at bay until the shots started falling, clearing the way for Virginia's fifth straight victory, 61-49 against the Panthers.
"It's frustrating when your shots aren't falling and you can't seem to get things going offensively, but at the same time, as long as we were getting stops we weren't going to be too frustrated with ourselves," Brogdon said. "When your offense isn't going well, you've got to lean on something, and for us, our identity is defense. It works out great for us."
Brogdon scored 18 points, including the 1,000th of his career, causing coach Tony Bennett to joke that he needs to follow the lead of NFL quarterbacks that reward their linemen and buy watches for the teammates whose screens he has used.
Virginia used a late 8-0 scoring run — and another defense-forced scoreless spell for the Panthers — to pull away.
The Cavaliers (24-1, 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) three times held Pittsburgh scoreless for more than 5 minutes, and they needed all three. The victory tied the best start to a season in program history, first done in the 1981-82 season.
Darion Atkins, the lone senior on the team, said the Cavaliers "have gotten used to" the offensive struggles.
"We just have to stay poised and not settle for a good shot but a great shot," he said.
And, he said, remember what has brought them to this point.
"If we can't do it on the defensive end, offense is just not going to win it for us," Atkins said.
Jamel Artis scored 20 and Sheldon Jeter 10 for the Panthers (17-10, 6-7), who got no points from scoring leader Michael Young (13.3 ppg). He fouled out in 21 minutes and took just three shots. Nonetheless, the Panthers cut a 10-point deficit to three with just under 8 minutes to play, but the Cavaliers then reeled off eight straight points.
"They keep coming and they keep making you make the right play time and time again," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "Their size at all positions, I think, is a real attribute for them. Their size and their strength and experience at all spots."
The Panthers trailed 25-15 at halftime, but scored 10 of the first 15 points after the break to get within 30-25. Jeter had seven in the burst and he and Artis each contributed a 3-pointer. For the third time, Pitt then went more than five minutes without a point. They missed five free throws in the drought, but Virginia had a similar dry spell, so the game remained close.
A 3-pointer by Artis pulled the Panthers within 36-32, and Cameron Wright had a chance to cut the deficit to two, but he made only the first of a pair of free throws with 7:54 remaining.
Leading just 36-33, Anthony Gill made a pair of free throws for the Cavaliers, Perrantes added a free throw and a driving basket and Marial Shayok finished the burst with a 3-pointer, giving Virginia a 44-33 lead with 4:14 left.
The Panthers never really made a challenge again, and when they continued to foul as Virginia built its margin to something more comfortable, fans booed and roared as Bennett made substitutions.
Virginia got points from seven players in an 18-3 run early in the game. It came after Pittsburgh hit its first two shots, then managed just one field goal in the next 13 minutes, 53 seconds. The Panthers went 6:26 without a point, and after a basket by Chris Jones, they went another 6:19 without scoring.