No. 4 men’s basketball cruises to 65-52 win over No. 9 Florida State

Guy, Key lead Virginia to start conference play off with a win

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Junior forward Braxton Key had a career-high 20 points as a Cavalier and tied with Hunter for a team-high six rebounds against Florida State Saturday.

Dorothy Wang | Cavalier Daily

After going undefeated in non-conference play, the No. 4 Virginia men’s basketball team remained unbeaten as it opened up ACC play with a 65-52 win over No. 9 Florida State.

Even though the Seminoles (12-2, 0-1 ACC) were the highest ranked opponent that the Cavaliers (13-0, 1-0 ACC) have faced so far this season, Virginia dominated the game, leading for 83.5 percent of it. 

Starting for the Cavaliers was sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter, junior guard Ty Jerome, junior guard Kyle Guy, junior forward Mamadi Diakite and senior center Jack Salt.

In the first half, Florida State jumped ahead in the first few minutes, getting an 8-4 lead going into the first time out, which came with 15:45 left to play in the half. However, once Virginia claimed a 10-9 lead at the 7:52 mark, the Cavaliers didn’t trail for the rest of the half. 

Guy led the Cavaliers in scoring for the first 20 minutes of play with 18 points after going a perfect 4-for-4 from the three point line, 6-for-7 on all field goal attempts and 2-for-2 on free throws. He also set a Virginia record with 11-consecutive three-pointers over the past two games. Junior forward Braxton Key was also big for Virginia, adding 12 points to the scoreboard in the first half. 

“[Guy’s] been shooting well in practice,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “He’s been working at it… what he does have the ability to do is sometimes twist or turn in the air and find it and he can get it rolling, for sure. And we needed that.” 

As a team, the Cavaliers shot 48.1 percent overall, 50 percent from three and had three turnovers in the first half. The lead for Virginia grew throughout the 20 minutes of play, as they closed out the half going on a 17-4 run in the final five minutes of the half, to head in the locker room with a 42-23 lead. 

Meanwhile, the Seminoles struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 31.6 percent on field goals, 25 percent from three and 53.3 percent from the free throw line. Sophomore guard M.J. Walker lead Florida State with seven first half points, while senior forward Phil Cofer added six points. The team also had eight turnovers. 

“We were locked in and were ready to play defensively,” Bennett said. “Our length, our slides, we contested stuff. Did they miss some shots? Yes. Were we perfect? No. But we said we’re going to work, and at half time I said, ‘If you can, win this with your defense.’”

The struggles continued for Florida State in the second half as they finished the day shooting 15-for-44, and 6-for-23 from three. The Seminoles additionally turned the ball over 15 times, had two shot clock violations and were 59.3 percent on free throws. The 52 points that Florida State finished with were the fewest points they have scored all season. Cofer led the Seminoles in scoring with nine points. 

Virginia’s offense slowed a little in the second half, but the Cavaliers still ended the game with 40.4 percent field goal shooting, 43.8 percent three-point shooting and 88.9 percent free-throw shooting to win 65-52. 

Guy finished as the leading scorer for the afternoon with 21 points. Key finished just behind him with a career-high 20 points as a Cavalier, and tied with Hunter for a team-high six rebounds. 

“He’s had a couple of real good practices, defensively he’s been really good in position, and I told him that, and offensively he really let the game come,” Bennett said of Braxton. “He took the open shots when they were there, attacked when it were there. That’s his game. He’s kind of a complete player, who does a little bit of everything and understands how to play.”

“My teammates had confidence in me, and I had confidence in myself,” Key said. “So whenever I had an open look I just tried to be a little more aggressive today than normal, and shots were falling for me.”

The win over Florida State marked an 11-game winning streak in ACC openers for Virginia and was the seventh time in the last nine matchups against the Seminoles that Virginia has won. 

The Cavaliers will now hit the road for their next two games. First up is Boston College on Jan. 9, and then they will face Clemson on Jan. 12. Virginia will return to JPJ to host in-state rival Virginia Tech on Jan. 15 at 8:00 p.m. 

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