Virginia’s Kihei Clark struggles in loss at Florida State

KIhei ClarkIt wasn’t what Florida State, a good defensive team, reputationally, did to Kihei Clark. It was more what Clark did to himself.

Clark got into the lane seemingly whenever he wanted to in Wednesday’s 54-50 loss in Tallahassee.

Problem was, it didn’t always work out.

According to, the 5’9” sophomore had seven shot attempts at the rim, one off his season-high, and actually, surprisingly, a team-high last night.

He also had five assists, three of them on dribble-drives into the lane that led to Virginia layups.

That’s the good.

The, ah, you know, the other: on the seven shots at the rim, he made three of them, had two of them swatted.

And then, the five assists, good, but then there were the nine turnovers.

You’re not going to win many games with your point guard turning the ball over nine times, and yet, this one, on the road, at #9, was a tie game into the final minute.

Clean that up, and you gotta figure, good things are ahead?

Virginia coach Tony Bennett, himself a college and NBA point guard, knows the pressure is on Clark, who is being asked to do, well, everything.

“I told him before that his plate is full, and it is overflowing in terms of what is required from him for us to be successful. You got to guard, handle the ball, make decisions, and score,” Bennett said after the game.

Bennett’s advice to Clark:

“At times you are going to struggle and look rough, and other times it is going to look good. I promise you it will one of absolute best things for your career as a player,” Bennett said.

To be fair to Clark, and you need to be fair to Clark, considering, he is averaging 10.0 points and 5.9 assists per game, shooting a team-best 37.9 percent from three-point range, and he’s doing all that while almost always giving up several inches to the guy on the other side.

Virginia needs Clark to keep doing what he’s been doing.

Just needs to clean it up a bit.

“I am going to hold him accountable and challenge him, but, on the other hand, like I said, I am going to encourage him and keep him staying after it,” Bennett said. “I know it, and he knows what it takes for us to win, and that he needs to do a lot for us to win.”

Story by Chris Graham

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