Kyle Guy: En Fuego

Virginia’s Kyle Guy, who led all scorers with 21 points, gives the three-point signal after a first-half jumpshot. Photo by John Markon.

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Kyle Guy has officially surged beyond Red Hot.

Physicists tell us that heat progresses from red, orange, yellow, blue, violet, and then ultraviolet, which will burn our retinas. While it doesn’t exactly fit into the sports lingo in describing how on fire a player might be, Guy is now ultraviolet.

If you question that, then ask Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton after Saturday’s complete annihilation of his No. 9-ranked Seminoles at the hands of Guy and No. 4 Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena. The 65-52 final score was deceptive in that Tony Bennett pulled his starters after the Cavaliers went up 63-34 with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

FSU, perhaps attempting to save face with national poll voters, outscored the Cavalier reserves 18-2 down the stretch.

Anyone who saw it knew that Virginia beat the you-know-what out of Florida State, now 12-2 on the season. The Cavaliers improved to 13-0 and couldn’t have been any more dominant.

Then there was that ultraviolet thing going on.

Guy, the deadeye sniper that he is, set a Virginia record of making 11 straight 3-pointers, carrying over from the Marshall game (last six in a row) on New Year’s Eve until Saturday (first five in a row). Against the Seminoles, Guy scored a game-high 21 points, including 5 of 6 from behind the arc and 7 for 11 overall from the field.

Over the last two games, he has scored 51 points (12 of 15 on 3-pointers), and has destroyed defenses in his path.

It’s like Guy’s playing his own personal game of Pop-a-Shot, and on a red-hot … or, er, ultraviolet streak the likes we haven’t seen around these parts since the days of Joey Buckets, Keith Friel, and for goodness sakes Curtis Staples.

Hamilton, in his 17th season at the helm of Florida State basketball, was blown away by Guy, even though he has studied the former Indiana high school “Mr. Basketball” for going on three years.

“You know, you watch [Guy] play on film and you just don’t believe a guy is capable of being that confident when he shoots the ball,” Hamilton said, shaking his head almost in disbelief. “I’m not sure I’ve seen many guys that seem to feel as good wherever they are on the floor that they’re capable of putting it in the basket … and he does. We just didn’t have any answer.”

In fact, when Hamilton was asked in the postgame press conference about what FSU’s scouting report told them about Guy’s teammate, Braxton Key, who scored a UVA career-high 20 points, the Seminoles’ coach started talking about Guy.

“We watched [Guy on film] and even made comments that sometimes we didn’t even know if he was looking at the goal … especially on some of those out-of-bound plays, he was just catching and turning around in the air and knocking it in,” Hamilton said before the sportswriter interrupted him and said he was asking about Key.

“Oh, we’re talking about Key … I’m sorry,” Hamilton said. “You see, I’ve got Guy on my mind.”

Understandable after a guy — pun intended — lights you up like that. Maybe Hamilton’s retinas were still burning.

The Cavalier guard put on a clinic in the first half that allowed UVA, now 13-0 (1-0 ACC), to set the tone. Guy had 18 points at the break and had missed only one shot, and hit all four from Bonusphere as Virginia put the visiting ‘Noles on their heels.

That was important because FSU had come into JPJ pretty hot itself with a 12-1 record that matched its program’s hottest start in history. Hamilton boasted a team 11-deep, with one of those teams that the late Al McGuire used to describe as an “All-Airport Team,” meaning they were such physical specimens, they looked very imposing walking through airports.

In fact, Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey jested after playing FSU this season that, “Florida State is like Noah’s Ark … they have two of everything.”

But they didn’t have Guy.

Not many teams do. Virginia’s lineup is speckled with greatness, including sophomore De’Andre Hunter and junior Ty Jerome, both projected as NBA draft picks this spring. No love for Guy on those early lists, but that’s OK with the first-team All-ACC guard.

“I think I am doing a great job this year of blocking all that noise out and making sure that I am focused on day-by-day stuff,” Guy said. “I think that has really helped me.

“I am absolutely happy for De’Andre and Ty getting that draft buzz,” he continued. “I’ve obviously seen that I’m not really on [the lists], so that’s a chip on my shoulder, but I’ve been overlooked my entire life.”

Not by anyone in the ACC, and certainly not by his teammates and coaches.

Guy entered the weekend leading the basketball-rich league in 3-point field goals made (36, 3 per game) and fifth in percentage (36 of 79, .456). He exited with even more impressive numbers.

He now has made 175 triples not even halfway through his third year at Virginia, 175 out of 400 attempts. That’s hovering around 44 percent for his career. Saturday, he moved into 10th place on UVA’s career 3-pointers made list and will likely zoom past greats John Crotty (179) and Malcolm Brogdon (185) before the week is over.

Guy, whose 11 consecutive 3’s broke the old UVA record of 8, said he has never enjoyed such a streak before, but owed a lot to teammates like Jerome. The two have been so close that they can finish one another’s sentences.

“I think Ty does a great job in that he’s a true servant (part of Bennett’s principles of basketball) in that he’s always trying to find me and get me going,” Guy said. “He always comes and finds me in the timeout and tells me that he is about to get me going. I think that has a lot to do with it.”

Jerome said he pulled Guy aside early in the first half and told him to start moving hard, that he was going to find him. And, he did just that as part of his six-assist day.

“Teams can’t guard him when he’s hitting like that,” Jerome said of Guy. “It’s effortless for him. He’s been rolling the past few games and we have to make sure that we do our job and get him the ball so he can stay rolling. He’s as good as anybody in the country.”

Hamilton, by the way, was right about Guy seemingly not even looking at the goal on some of those shots. He has such a quick release and can somehow launch himself, sometimes twisting or turning in the air and letting the ball go, and it goes in.

“It’s pretty amazing, it really is,” Jerome said. “But when you see it every day in practice you almost take it for granted, and expect it go go in.”

Yeah, man, that’s ultraviolet.


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