No. 5 Houston outlasts No. 2 Virginia, 69-61, to snap Cavaliers’ win streak

By Scott Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

The second-ranked Virginia men’s basketball team saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end Saturday, as No. 5 Houston came into John Paul Jones Arena and gutted out a 69-61 victory in front of a loud, sold-out crowd.

UVA junior guard Reece Beekman’s availability was a question mark coming into the contest after sitting out the majority of the win over James Madison on Dec. 6. Although he wasn’t at 100 percent, Beekman started and gave it all he had for 33-plus minutes, but the Cavaliers (8-1) just couldn’t get back into the contest after the Cougars (11-1) built a double-digit lead in the second half.

The Hoos went through one stretch in the second half where they were getting decent looks, but only made 1 out of 10 field-goal attempts in a span of nearly six minutes. Meanwhile, Houston seemingly couldn’t miss, knocking down tough basket after tough basket to quiet the crowd for long stretches after halftime.

Virginia was able to chip away late and got within 6 points, 54-48, on a Kihei Clark steal and layup, and then the JPJ scoreboard noise meter nearly malfunctioned after the Wahoo defense forced a Houston turnover with 3:42 to play.

The Hoos had all the momentum they needed to make a late rally, and set up a play coming out of the final TV break that gave first-year sharpshooter Isaac McKneely a 3-point look from the top of the key that would’ve made it a one-possession affair and blown the roof off.

His shot rattled out, however, and the Cougars used a quick 7-2 spurt to push their lead back to double digits and match their largest lead of the afternoon, 61-50, capped off by a tough turnaround jumper from UH star freshman forward Jarace Walker with 1:42 to play.

On the day, the Cavaliers shot 42 percent (20 for 48) from the field, 27 percent from long range (6 for 22) and 88 percent (15 for 17) from the charity stripe. Houston shot 49 percent (25 of 51) for the game, including 38 percent from downtown (8 for 21), and outrebounded Virginia, 30-26.

Walker led all scorers with 17 points, as all five Houston starters finished in double figures — Sasser and Tramon Mark each had 13 points, while Jamal Shead put in 11 and J’Wan Roberts added 10.

UVA committed a dozen turnovers, but Houston was only able to produce 9 points as a result. Kadin Shedrick posted a team-high 16 points, while Jayden Gardner added 13 and Armaan Franklin — who knocked down two of his three 3-point tries — contributed 10.

McKneely sank a pair of triples and scored 9 points, while Clark wound up with 9 points and a game-high 8 assists. Beekman finished with 4 points (on 1-of-5 shooting) and 5 dimes.

The Cavaliers jumped out to a 9-0 lead, as Clark sank a 3-pointer one minute into the contest, then fed Shedrick on a nice no-look pass for a powerful flush that made it 7-0 and ignited the home crowd. A pair of Gardner free throws stretched it to 9-0 before Roberts finally got the visitors on the board just before the game’s first media timeout.

After the Cougars trimmed it to two, the Hoos got back-to-back triples — one from McKneely and one from Beekman — to lead 15-7 with 12:57 left in the half. Houston responded with a 19-4 run over the next 8-plus minutes, highlighted by three 3-pointers by Sasser, as the Cougars took advantage of a swing in momentum to build a 26-19 lead. It was 21-19 Houston when Clark was called for traveling on what appeared to be a potential three-point play, as Virginia fans let the officials hear it with a loud chorus of boos over the next few possessions.

The Hoos used a late flurry to get back within four by halftime, 30-26, despite turning the ball over seven times across the opening 20 minutes.

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • UVA hosting its highest ranked nonconference foe in history
  • Virginia is 5-1 at John Paul Jones Arena
  • UVA is 2-1 vs. ranked opponents and 50-42 against ranked foes in the Tony Bennett era
  • UVA started the game on a 9-0 run, holding Houston to 0 of 6 field goals
  • Houston gained a 16-15 lead
  • UVA trailed 30-26 at the half
  • UVA is 4-1 when trailing at halftime
  • UVA forced one shot clock violation

Series Notes

  • UVA is 3-5 all-time vs. Houston in the series that dates to Dec. 16, 1982, when the teams squared off in Tokyo, Japan
  • UVA is 1-1 vs. Houston in Charlottesville

Player Notes

  • Double Figure Scorers: Kadin Shedrick (16), Jayden Gardner (13), Armaan Franklin (10)
  • Gardner reached double figures for the 108th time
  • Shedrick reached double figures for the 17th time
  • Franklin reached double figures for the 39th time and first time since his career-high 26 points vs. Baylor (11/18)
  • Clark ranks third on UVA’s career games list with 137 and career starts list with 117
  • Clark (1,184 points) passed Mike Katos for 38th on UVA’s all-time scoring list
  • Clark (587 assists) tied Sean Singletary (587 from 2005-08) for third on UVA’s all-time assists list

It’ll be a short turnaround for the Hoos, as they jump back into ACC play on the road against another tough opponent, No. 25 Miami, on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on ACC Network.