McKneely, Beekman spark UVA’s 8th straight win, toppling Florida State

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Isaac McKneely and Reece Beekman each scored career highs on Saturday night to spark Virginia’s 80-76 win at Florida State, continuing the Cavaliers’ winning streak to eight-straight games.

McKneely posted 29 points and Beekman 21, as UVA improved its record to 19-5 overall and 10-3 in the ACC, alone in second place in league standings. It was also Virginia’s fourth-consecutive road win.

Tony Bennett said that both McKneely and Beekman were spectacular in their efforts, as the Seminoles, 13-10, 7-5, and losers in four of their last six games, had no answer for the Virginia duo.

McKneely, one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters, hit 5 of 7 from the arc and 8 of 12 overall for his career-high 29 points. Beekman was on the attack all night, hunting shots and driving the lane en route to a career-high 21. Jake Groves added 10.

The difference in the game was Virginia’s ability to score from the arc, making 10 of 18 (56 percent), and 6 of 8 (75 percent) in the second half. Meanwhile, Florida State was a mere 2 of 16 from the 3-point line, a putrid 13 percent. It was the second-straight outing that Virginia completely shut down its opponents’ scoring from long range. Last Monday night in a season-low scoring effort of only 38 points, Miami was 2 of 20 from the arc. That’s 4 of 36 combined for the Hurricanes and Seminoles in the stretch of a week.

“We had the same high percentage of 3-point attempts, but we missed ours and they made theirs,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. “From a statistical standpoint, that made the difference in the game.”

FSU’s Darin Green, who was held to 5 points in the game, was handcuffed from the arc, unable to make a 3-pointer for only the second time this season. Jamir Watkins led the Seminoles with 21 points, including 11 free throws.

Photo; UVA Athletics

Florida State went to the line 33 times and made 26, which kept the Seminoles in the game as Jordan Minor, Ryan Dunn and Groves all saw limited time because of foul trouble.

Virginia, which entered the game as one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the country, was 18 of 24 at the line.

The Cavaliers built a 12-point lead (69-57) with 3:53 to play, but Green cut the advantage to 2 on a layup and an accompanying free throw with 11 seconds to play. McKneely was fouled and converted a pair of free throws to put UVA up by 4 with 8.2 seconds showing.

Dunn fouled FSU’s Tom House on a desperation 3-point attempt with 4.8 seconds to play. House, who was only 2 of 5 from the line all season long coming into the game, made the first, missed the second, then intentionally missed the third in hopes of the Seminoles gaining an offensive rebound.

Instead, McKneely grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made a free throw to ice the Cavaliers’ win.

“Unfortunately, in the ACC you can’t afford to play 30 minutes of a game,” Hamilton said. “You can’t take any possessions off because every team in our league is capable of being successful.

“Virginia struggled a little it early, but they figured out what’s the best approach for them. We’re just now getting to the point where we understand who we are.”

UVA owned a 34-30 lead at the break but went on a 13-5 run a few minutes into the second half for a 54-43 lead. The Seminoles cut into that lead, getting back to 57-53 before the Cavaliers put together a 12-4 run and the 69-57 lead before FSU fought back in the waning minutes to make it interesting.

Virginia returns home to host Pittsburgh on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Cavaliers own the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 23 games.

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • UVA (19-5, 10-3 ACC) has an eight -game win streak
  • UVA is 4-4 in true road games
  • UVA is 50-1 all-time when scoring 80 or more points (4-0 in 2023-24) under Tony Bennett
  • Virginia is 166-11 all-time when scoring 70 or more points under Bennett
  • UVA is 9-0 when scoring 70 or more points in 2023-24
  • FSU’s 9-0 run cut the UVA lead to 54-52 at 8:24 second half
  • UVA led 34-30 at the half, improving to 18-0 when leading after the first stanza
  • UVA used a 9-0 run to gain an 18-8 lead
  • FSU’s 26 free throws made and 35 attempted were highs vs. UVA this year

Series Notes

  • Virginia is 29-28 all-time vs. Florida State, including a 10-17 mark in Tallahassee, in a series that dates to 1991-92
  • UVA has a three-game win streak vs. Florida State
  • Head coach Tony Bennett is 12-11 all-time vs. Florida State

Player Notes

  • Double Figure Scorers: Isaac McKneely (29), Reece Beekman (21), Jake Groves (10)
  • McKneely had a career-high 29 points
  • Beekman tied a career high with 21 points
  • McKneely also set career bests in free throws made (8) and attempted (9)
  • McKneely reached double figures for the 19th time
  • Beekman reached double figures for the 50th time
  • Beekman moved into 47th on UVA’s all-time scoring list with 1,039 points
  • Beekman (5 assists) moved into fifth on UVA’s all-time assist list with 570
  • Beekman (2 steals) moved into a tie for fifth on UVa’s single season steals list with 57
  • Groves matched a season high with a pair of steals
  • Groves reached double figures for the 35th time (9th at UVA)
  • Groves has a four-game, double-figure scoring streak
  • Groves is 16 of 22 from 3-point range over the past five games