Behind career-high from Kihei, ‘Hoos blast Hokies, 65-39, to stay perfect in ACC play

File photo by Jon Golden

Kihei Clark scored a career-high 18 points and Braxton Key added a season-high 18 of his own to lift No. 19 Virginia to a 65-39 win over Virginia Tech to stay perfect in conference play on Saturday. For UVA (11-2, 3-0 ACC), it was the sixth win in the last eight meetings and 13th of the last 16 against the rival Hokies (10-4, 1-2).

The Cavalier defense held the hot-shooting Hokies under 40 points for the first time since 1967, as Tech shot 27 percent for the contest (13 for 48), including just 16 percent (4 of 25) from downtown. The Hokies came into the game leading the conference from beyond the arc at 39 percent on the season.

Clark scored 10 points in just over seven minutes out of the halftime break, as UVA stepped on the gas offensively and turned up the heat on defense. After building a 13-point halftime cushion, the Wahoos caught fire from long distance themselves, as Key nailed a 3-pointer (assisted by Clark) in between Clark buckets to start the second half, giving the ‘Hoos a 37-21 lead.

Clark later sailed to the rim for a three-point play, then Kody Stattmann made a great defensive play moments later to lead to a Key layup in transition (assisted by Clark), giving the Cavaliers a 42-23 advantage with 13:40 to play to cap a 12-4 run.

Clark, whose previous career-high of 15 was set earlier this season against Vermont, then swished three free throws before Tomas Woldetensae connected from long range to make it 48-26 out of the under-12 timeout.

Freshman Chase Coleman got into the act with a deep ball of his own to give Virginia a 51-28 lead moments later. The Hokies had a brief 6-0 flurry to get within 17, but Stattmann, who finished with a career-best 10 points, answered with a 3 on the opposite end to extend the lead back to 20.

Another Cavalier freshman, Casey Morsell, then flushed one home on a strong baseline drive, and added a steal and drove to the hole for another basket, but Stattmann was there for the follow with just over four minutes to play, and the ‘Hoos were rolling, 58-36.

VT redshirt freshman Landers Nolley II, the Hokies’ leading scorer, put up all but two of his team’s points in the opening 20 minutes, but didn’t find the scoring sheet again until the 3:50 mark of the second half when a 3-pointer fell for his only other basket of the contest. He finished with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting, as no other Hokie had more than eight points.

The Cavaliers never trailed on the afternoon. Morsell sank a 3-pointer from the corner and then Key scored his second basket with a nice move off a nifty Clark set-up and assist, as Virginia jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes of the contest and never looked back.

The Hokies missed four of their first five field-goal attempts and turned the ball over three times by the first media timeout. Tech missed 10 of its first 12 shots from the floor.

Aside from a Stattmann steal and a layup on the other end, Virginia hit a shooting slump of its own, coming up empty on seven of eight attempts during a long stretch midway through the first half.

Key drilled an open 3, just his sixth triple on the year, to give the ‘Hoos a 14-6 lead at the under-8 break. Mamadi Diakite found Key for two more out of the timeout to push the lead to double digits. Key then dove to save the ball from going out of bounds on Tech’s ensuing possession, which led to a Cavalier free throw on the other end.

Nolley hit a 3-ball with 5:40 left — after the Hokies had misfired on their first seven from downtown — to make it 17-9.

Diakite answered with back-to-back buckets, the latter a soft putback of a Clark miss, and then Key finished an easy drive to the rack before a Clark 3 with just under two minutes left gave the ‘Hoos their biggest lead of the half, 26-11.

Nolley responded with a three-point play on the other end, then nailed his second 3-pointer (after another Clark basket) to keep the visitors from Blacksburg within striking distance, but a Stattmann jam off an inbound play in the closing seconds put the Hokies down 30-17 at the half.

Key had 11 points and five rebounds by halftime, connecting on five of his seven attempts from the floor. Tech shot just 29 percent (7 for 24) from the field and 2 of 12 (17 percent) from long distance in the first half.

UVA out-rebounded the Hokies by seven (18-11) in the first half, as the visitors nearly matched their season average (9.5) with 8 turnovers heading into the locker room. The Hokies finished with 13 giveaways, which led to 14 Cavalier points. UVA dominated the Hokies in the paint, 34-16.

For the contest, Virginia won the rebounding battle convincingly, 38-25, as Key and Diakite hauled in 10 boards apiece to lead the way. Stattmann added eight rebounds, also a career high. Clark had six assists and a steal, as the Cavaliers look to keep it rolling on the road at Boston College (8-6, 2-1) Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ACC Network.

Courtesy UVA Media Relations:

Team Notes

  • The Virginia-Virginia Tech game was part of the Commonwealth Clash presented by Virginia529, which is a head-to-head, points-based competition between the athletic teams of the Cavaliers and Hokies
  • The UVA-VT game was worth a half point in the Clash and the Cavaliers lead this year’s Clash 4.5-2
  • The Cavaliers have held a Division I leading nine opponents to fewer than 50 points and four foes to fewer than 40 points
  • UVA is 70-15 against teams from Virginia since 1999-00
  • UVA has won 23 of its last 26 games against teams from Virginia
  • UVA limited its fifth opponent to 20 or fewer points in the first half (UVA led 30-17)
  • UVA owned a 38-25 rebound advantage
  • UVA held its fifth opponent to less than 30 percent shooting (27.1%)

Series Notes

  • Virginia has a three-game winning streak against Virginia Tech
  • The 26-point home win was UVA’s largest in the series since a 48-point (107-59) home win on Feb. 18, 1955
  • UVA is 94-56 all-time vs. Virginia Tech, including a 40-13 mark in Charlottesville, in the series that dates back to 1914-15.
  • Head coach Tony Bennett is 15-6 all-time vs. Virginia Tech

Player Notes

  • Double-figure scorers: Braxton Key (18), Kihei Clark (18), Kody Stattmann (10)
  • Clark had a career-high 18 points, previous high was 15
  • Stattmann had career highs in points (10) and rebounds (8)
  • Key recorded his second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds

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