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No. 3 men’s basketball edges out Miami, 56-46

Cavaliers pick up win over Hurricanes without Ty Jerome

<p>Junior forward Mamadi Diakite has averaged 10 points per game over the Cavaliers' last four games.</p>

Junior forward Mamadi Diakite has averaged 10 points per game over the Cavaliers' last four games.

After an overtime win against N.C. State earlier in the week, No. 3 Virginia picked up another ACC win, edging out Miami 56-46 at home. The Saturday afternoon game marked the eighth conference win for the Cavaliers (20-1, 8-1 ACC) and the eighth conference loss for the Hurricanes (9-12, 1-8 ACC). 

Noticeably absent from the court was Virginia’s junior guard Ty Jerome, who sat out of the game with a back injury. 

“It was invaluable experience for all our guys to play [without Jerome],” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said

The Cavaliers started freshman guard Kihei Clark in place of Jerome. While Clark has played over 500 minutes this season, it took him some time to settle in to his role, turning the ball over four times in the first half. With 9:56 to play in the half, Clark scored his first bucket of the game, which along with a three-pointer, made for five first-half points for Clark. The freshman also had four assists in the first 20 minutes of play. 

“[He] made some good plays at times, and at times he certainly looked like a first-year in that setting, it showed,” Bennett said of Clark. “But he did do some good things, we had to play him a lot of minutes.”

Virginia’s early offense largely came from sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter, who had 10 points after shooting four-for-seven on field goals. However, as a team, the Cavaliers struggled to score, shooting 39.3 percent on all shots and 33.3 percent from behind the arc. Junior guard Kyle Guy, who entered the game averaging a team-high 14.8 points, didn’t get on the scoreboard until 10:57 into the half and finished the half with just five points. 

“They have two guys [Lykes and Johnson] that can really pressure the ball,” Bennett said. “They were jumping some passing lanes … I just felt like early on, we got some good looks out of our ball screen offense and we just missed a lot of shots.”

Still, the Cavaliers were able to hold on to the lead for a majority of the half as Miami had offensive struggles too. The Hurricanes converted 7-of-25 shots to make for 28 percent shooting overall and 25 percent shooting from three. Sophomore guard Chris Lykes and redshirt sophomore forward Sam Waardenburg each had eight points, making for over 75 percent of Miami’s scoring. 

“I think we made some defensive plays to block some shots and bother some things, and they missed an awful lot of wide-open looks — let’s keep it real,” Bennett said. 

Coming out of the locker room with a 28-21 lead, Virginia continued to maintain an edge over the Hurricanes in the second half. The Cavaliers shot 45.8 percent and 37.5 from three in the half. Hunter remained the leading scorer for Virginia, finishing the game with 14 points. Behind him was junior forward Mamadi Diakite, who had 11 points. Diakite also had a big presence on defense, blocking three shots.

“His timing is getting better and he’s so quick off the floor — that’s unmistakable,” Bennett said. “The offensive rebounds and the blocked shots, those are the winning plays, those are the important plays that in games like this can save you. He’s improving, his timing and just his reading of it is getting better.”

Diakite also helped the Cavaliers by getting five offensive rebounds, giving the team some second-chance-scoring opportunities. 

“I was just trying to get some more possessions for the team,” Diakite said. “Having more offensive rebounds was putting a lot of pressure on [Miami].”  

Guy also scored in double figures, adding 10 points to the scoreboard, while Clark had nine points and six assists. However, Clark also had six turnovers. Turnovers were an issue for the second game in a row for the Cavaliers, who finished with 14 turnovers as a team.

“It’s something we’ve got to take care of this week,” Guy said. “We’ve got a good two days off to get ready for Duke. I think being a little more focused, a little more laser-focused will help.”

Though Miami had just seven turnovers, offensive struggles continued to hurt the Hurricanes. As a team, they shot 34 percent overall and were just 19 percent from behind the arc after going 4-for-21. Lykes finished as the leading scorer for the day with 16 points, while Johnson and Waardenburg each had 10 points. 

Virginia doesn’t play again until this Saturday, when they’ll host No. 2 Duke. This will be the second matchup of the season for these two teams, with Duke claiming a 72-70 win against the Cavaliers a few weeks ago. ESPN’s College Gameday will make the trip to Charlottesville for the battle between two top-five teams. The game against the Blue Devils is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off from John Paul Jones Arena. 


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