Virginia's loss proves it needs another playmaker

George Washington upsets No. 6 Virginia (1:19)

Malcolm Brogdon scores 28 points for Virginia, but it is not enough, as George Washington holds on for a 73-68 victory. (1:19)

It took back-to-back seasons of 30 wins for Virginia to earn its preferred status back among the nation's elite programs.

You know the treatment: Perennial powers get the benefit of the doubt that no matter who they lose to, they'll have enough talent to plug in a replacement or two and keep winning at the same level.

That's what it was assumed No. 6 Virginia would do, yet it could lose that status before the new year if it's not careful.

Senior forward Anthony Gill echoed as much before the season began.

"Guys step up when they're needed. That's what this program is built upon," Gill told ESPN.com. "A lot of times, the talent gets overlooked because of the style of play that we have, but we do have that talent to be competitive regardless of one player."

Gill was speaking in reference to losing guard/forward Justin Anderson, who turned pro with a season of eligibility remaining.

Virginia senior guard Malcolm Brogdon stayed behind, though, and figured to be enough to project UVA as a contender for a third straight ACC regular-season title and its first Final Four appearance in three decades.

The Cavaliers' 73-68 loss at George Washington proved they need more. They were one playmaker short of winning Monday night and might be one playmaker short of being an elite team this season.

Brogdon delivered, probably even more than expected even for someone voted the ACC's preseason co-player of the year with North Carolina's Marcus Paige. Brogdon scored a career-high 28 points while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds and dishing a team-high four assists. He shot 9-of-18 from the field.

Take away Brogdon's line and the rest of the team combined to make just 16 of 44 field goal attempts (36 percent).

The upset prompted a mini-court storm by Colonials fans, and there was plenty of reason for them to celebrate their team, which snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Wahoos. It also marked George Washington's first win over an opponent ranked that high since beating No. 1 Massachusetts 78-75 on Feb. 5, 1995.

George Washington returned a veteran team. Guard Patricio Garino played for his native Argentina in the FIBA Americas tournament. Forward Tyler Cavanaugh, a Wake Forest transfer, scored 20 as a sophomore in an upset of No. 4 Duke. The two led the Colonials by scoring 18 each against Virginia.

They played reckless and carefree enough to be daring against Virginia's vaunted pack-line defense. The Colonials attacked the rim.

They played like they remembered the rule changes that were supposed to make scoring easier this season.

The Cavs haven't appeared to make that same adjustment during their first two games.

Gill and center Mike Tobey were the only other Cavaliers who scored in double figures, with 11 and 10, respectively. But they don't handle the ball.

Virginia's help has got to come from the perimeter.

Junior guard London Perrantes didn't have to be much of a scorer his first two seasons with Anderson, Brogdon and Joe Harris carrying the production.

Perrantes has essentially been a scorer only when needed. On one fast break in the first half, he even tried flipping the ball behind him to a teammate despite being positioned in front of the rim to take the shot.

Perrantes can no longer be just a facilitator. He has to look to score.

The rest of the Cavs, such as Darius Thompson, Marial Shayok, Devon Hall and Evan Nolte, have to stop being one-dimensional. They've combined to take nearly half of their shots (48 percent, to be exact) from 3-point range.

It should come as no surprise that Brogdon, Gill and Tobey were the only Virginia players to attempt a free throw against George Washington. The Cavs, as a whole, simply weren't driving to the rim enough.

Virginia can correct its shortcomings. Becoming the first top-10 team to lose this season should just be a speed bump. It will end up shredding the season's expectations only if Brogdon doesn't get more help.