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Glue guys key UVA road win

uva basketballUVA coach Tony Bennett went with Kihei Clark in his starting lineup Monday at North Carolina, even with Mamadi Diakite healthy and available.

The thinking being, Clark would check UNC freshman point guard Coby White, coming off his 33-point torching in the Tar Heels’ overtime win over Miami on Saturday, and maybe at least slow down the high-octane Carolina offense, which was fifth nationally in tempo, averaging 75.3 possessions per game.

Playing 27 of the game’s first 28+ minutes, White had posted 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and when Clark subbed out with 11:32 to go, North Carolina led 49-43, after a 17-3 run had erased an eight-point deficit.

Jack Salt also subbed out at the 11:32 mark.

Neither would check back in, as Bennett shortened his rotation to six – his backcourt starters, Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter, subs Braxton Key and Jay Huff, and Diakite.

Virginia outscored UNC 26-12 in the final 11:32, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor, holding Carolina to 4-of-20 shooting.

And White: missed his last seven shots from the field, scoring two points from the foul line in the closing stretch.

A key on the defensive end down the stretch: Key, the 6’8” junior, who had just one point, but he was on the floor for the final 14:31 for a reason, the reason being, defense.

Key, the top-rated defender in the ACC this season, according to, had a team-best six rebounds and a blocked shot in 22 minutes.

Huff, for his part, only ended up logging eight minutes on the night, but he was on the floor for the most important 5:54 of his career.

The 7’1” redshirt sophomore re-entered the game with 6:52 to go, and Virginia down four, 55-51.

UVA outscored UNC 16-6 over the 5:54 stretch before Huff subbed back out, with 58 seconds left, and Huff made his only bucket of the night count, converting a nice dish from De’Andre Hunter into a layup with 3:12 to go that put the ‘Hoos up to stay.

Huff also had a rebound in traffic and a steal to cut off two Tar Heels’ offensive possessions in the final three minutes.

Finally, Diakite. It had been feared that he might miss tonight’s game after having to leave the 81-71 loss Saturday night to Duke late in the first half following a freak collision with Hunter, but the 6’9” redshirt junior logged 23 minutes off the bench, and though he had just six points and two rebounds, he blocked four shots, and seemed to alter at least a couple of others.

OK, yeah, yeah: Kyle Guy had 11 of his 20 points in that final 11:32, and the Big Three – Guy, Hunter and Ty Jerome – shot a combined 8-of-9 from the floor in that closing stretch.

They get lots of words written about them.

The glue guys were just as important.

You’ve heard a lot of talk about how this year’s Virginia team is Bennett’s most versatile. That was no more evident than it was tonight in Chapel Hill.

Column by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press