news 12 virginia shakes off christmas break rust dispatches albany 66 46
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#12 Virginia shakes off Christmas break rust, dispatches Albany, 66-46

kihei clark
Photo: UVA Athletics

It took Virginia most of the first half to shake off the Christmas break rust. It helped that the opponent Wednesday night was Albany.

A 30-4 run over a 16-minute stretch did the trick to push the 12th-ranked Cavaliers to a 66-46 win.

The first 18 minutes weren’t pretty for UVA (9-2), which trailed for 3:32 of the first half, with things getting to the point that Tony Bennett called a momentum timeout after a Da’Kquan Davis jumper made it 19-15 Great Danes at the 7:55 mark.

Virginia closed out the first half on an 11-0 run that Kihei Clark practically willed into existence. After an Armaan Franklin and-one put the ‘Hoos on top, 27-24, Clark picked the pocket of Albany point guard Malik Edmead in the backcourt on back-to-back trips up the court, converting both into fast-break layups.

Clark later assisted on a Jayden Gardner layup with 27 seconds left that made it 33-24 Virginia at the break.

The Virginia D held the Danes to eight points in the second half until Bennett emptied the bench with five minutes left.

Franklin had 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting to lead UVA, which got 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds from Gardner.

Clark had eight points and 10 assists.

Reece Beekman did not play. No official word on that at this writing, but the presumption is it has to do with his lingering ankle and hamstring injuries dating back to the 70-68 win at Michigan on Nov. 29.

Analysis

Not much to glean from this one. Albany (5-10) came in ranked 326th in KenPom.com, and did a solid job hanging around for 20 minutes.

It was good to see Franklin get back on track. Since his 26-point outburst in the 86-79 win over Baylor on Nov. 18, he’d scored an average of 6.2 points per game over the last seven, including putting up a goose egg on 0-of-7 shooting in 13 minutes in the 66-64 loss at Miami on Dec. 20.

One item of note is that Bennett started Ben Vander Plas at center, but lifted him with foul trouble, and BVP only ended up getting 15 minutes, with three points on 1-of-4 shooting from three.

Kadin Shedrick had a nice game coming off the bench, with eight points and six boards in 22 minutes.

Another item worth noting: Francisco Caffaro – whose last name, we now know, should have been pronounced CAFF-a-ro all along, not CA-far-o, as we’d been doing for the past five years – had two points and two rebounds in 13 minutes.

He also missed all five of his free-throw attempts.

Caffaro was 6-of-7 at the line this season with the other pronunciation.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP. Want to reach me? Try [email protected].

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