When the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers (23-2, 11-2) and Virginia Tech Hokies (20-6, 9-5) met earlier in the season, it was a one-sided matchup. The Cavaliers crushed the Hokies, 81-69 in mid January. Well, the Hokies were looking to exact some revenge. However, the Cavaliers completed the season sweep with a 64-58 victory on Monday night.
Every time the Hokies tried to make a run it seemed like somebody was there to put out the fire. First, with the game tied at 34, Ty Jerome connected on a catch and shoot 3-pointer from the right wing. After a mini run to push the lead to 10, the Hokies battled back to cut the lead down to five. Once again, Jerome used a dribble probe stepback to increase the lead to 51-43. Moments later, De’Andre Hunter tipped away a pass for a breakaway dunk. The Cavaliers increased the lead to double digits. As a result, the game was in a cycle of counter punches.
Yet, many of the big moments belonged to Kyle Guy. After a brilliant first half, Guy picked his spots in the second half with a pair of clutch threes. Guy led the Cavaliers with 23 points and 7 rebounds. Overall, Guy connected on 6 of 13 shots from 3-point range.
He wasn’t the only factor from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers 11 of 27 from deep and really used the passing game to create open shots. They even had a pleasant surprise at the most opportune time.
Braxton Key came into the contest struggling from downtown. At least for one night, those struggles were over when Key made a pair of 3-pointers from the same left wing in the second half. Key finished the contest with six points, but his final dagger pushed the lead to 64-54 in the final minute. In fact, Key’s six points became the final margin.
For long stretches, Kerry Blackshear was the lone weapon within the Hokies’ offense. Blackshear led the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds. However, he wasn’t much of a contributor from 3-point range where the Hokies shot 3 of 27 in the game. That equates to 11 percent.
Ahmed Hill chipped in 16 points for the Hokies. He was joined by Nickeil Alexander-Walker in double figures with 11 points. Still, the three double digit scorers combined for 2 of 18 from beyond the arc. The rest of the team scored eight points.
The Hokies still showed plenty of fight in other areas. They grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and even had two hook and hold flagrant fouls called in the game. They also had nine steals against the usually efficient Cavaliers’ offense.
The Cavaliers held a 32-29 halftime lead over the Hokies. Isaiah Wilkins got steal and layup right before half to cut lead to three. However, the first half was dominated by the duel between Kyle Guy and Kerry Blackshear. Guy scored 17 first half points for the Cavaliers, leading all scorers in the game. Meanwhile, Blackshear led the Hokies with 15 points and 4 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of action.
Both teams shot slightly better than 46 percent from the field in the first half. Yet, the Hokies struggled mightily from 3-point range. They only connected on 15.4 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers fared much better at 35.7 percent from downtown. Yet and still, the Cavaliers only led by three points at the break.
Notes: The Cavaliers moved into sole possession of second place. Meanwhile, the Hokies fell into seventh place after Monday’s loss. Point guard Justin Robinson was still on the bench with a boot. There is no definitive timetable for a return this season. The Hokies have lost 3 of their last 7 games without Robinson in the lineup.