Virginia Shakes Slow Start, Pulls Away From Albany for 66-46 Win
Back-to-back losses to ranked opponents weren’t too catastrophic, but the same couldn’t be said for UVA’s start to Wednesday night’s game against Albany, with just over five minutes left in the first half. The Cavaliers found themselves behind. The Great Danes, a team that entered the night 5-9 and ranked 318th in the NET rankings.
The Hoos finally got the train back on track and played the way they should against an inferior opponent, using an 18-0 first-half run to take control of the game as Virginia defeated Albany 66-46 on Wednesday night in John Paul. Jones Arena.
Without Reece Beekman, who was held out by the UVA coaching staff to rest his strained hamstring, Virginia played poorly on both ends of the floor for the first 15 minutes of the game. Albany used separate 6-0 and 8-0 runs to build a four-point lead.
Albany’s Da’Kquan Davis, who scored eight of his team-high 11 points in the first half, hit a 3-pointer to give the Danes a 24-22 lead with 5:15 to go in the first half. Albany wouldn’t score another point until more than three minutes into the second half, a scoring drought of nearly nine minutes that spanned the first half. Armaan Franklin ignited the run with a three-point play to give the Cavaliers the lead for good. Franklin finished with a game-high 20 points on 7/13 shooting, including 3/6 from beyond the arc, and was a staggering +36 in his 31 minutes on the floor.
Franklin got things moving in the right direction, but it was Kihei Clark who sparked Virginia’s breakthrough. In a stunning sequence that Tony Bennett said he had only seen once before from his former Charlotte teammate Muggsy Bogues in the NBA, Clark picked Malik Edmead’s pocket in the backcourt in games of consecutive, looking for some easy lines. separated by just 11 seconds.
As he has done throughout his five-year career at Virginia, Clark brought the JPJ crowd to its feet. It was fitting that Clark did it in his 139th career game, as he passed London Perrantes and Mike Tobey for the most games played in UVA program history.
Virginia closed the first half on an 11-0 run and led 33-24 at halftime despite shooting 14.3% from three and 44.8% from the floor. Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin led the way with 10 points apiece in the first half.
The run continued for the Cavaliers to start the second half as they continued to play well on both ends of the floor. However, UVA went on an 18-0 lead in that span of more than eight minutes, turning a two-point deficit into a 16-point lead. Virginia stifled Albany on defense and shot 63% from the floor through the first eight minutes of the second half.
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Franklin continued his stellar play after the first half, hitting all four of his shots in the second half, including two 3-pointers. Franklin hit three of UVA’s five threes as the Cavaliers continued to struggle from distance, shooting just 27.8% from beyond the arc.
Fortunately for the Wahoos, they dominated in the paint to the extent of a 34-18 advantage in paint spots. Jayden Gardner finished with 16 points on an efficient 7/11 shooting and he grabbed seven rebounds. Kihei Clark had a breakout performance in his 139th career game, recording eight points, ten assists, four rebounds and two key steals.
The Cavaliers led by 28 points and took complete control of the game early in the second half. Albany knocked down a few three-pointers late in the game against UVA’s bench unit, but Virginia still cruised to a comfortable 66-46 victory to snap a two-game losing skid.
Now 9-2 on the season, Virginia returns to ACC play for the remainder of the season as the Cavaliers travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on New Year’s Eve at 12 p.m.
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