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Virginia loses heartbreaker, but shows impressive growth in defeat

kadin shedrick
Kadin Shedrick. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Iowa led 40-19 with 3:39 left in the first half, was 16-of-25 from the field at the time, was running Virginia out of JPJ. So, you’re telling me the ‘Hoos lost in a heartbreaker on a short jumper with eight seconds left?

Virginia actually did rally from 21 down to lead in the final minute, before losing to the unbeaten Hawkeyes, 75-74, on a Joe Toussaint bucket.

UVA (5-3) had the ball with a chance to win, but a Kihei Clark runner rimmed out, and Kadin Shedrick had his stickback at the buzzer blocked.

That it got to that stage is the story from this work-in-progress Virginia team, which grew by leaps and bounds in the defeat.

Among the things learned:

That Taine Murray is a baller. The freshman from New Zealand had played 29 minutes in the Cavaliers’ first seven games, but he 21 off the bench tonight, and scored 14 points, on 5-of-7 shooting, 4-of-6 from three, eight in the last three minutes, including a pair of threes.

The second three, with 1:36 to go, put Virginia ahead for the first time since the opening minute of the game.

He did miss the front end of a one-and-one with 27.6 seconds left and Virginia up one.

That Jayden Gardner can shoot threes. He talked with us for a “Jerry Ratcliffe Show” podcast over the summer about wanting to expand his game to the perimeter. Gardner hadn’t attempted a three in the first seven games plus 20 minutes, but hit a pair of threes in a 1:23 span as the ‘Hoos efforted to climb back into the game.

Gardner finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 27 minutes.

That Reece Beekman can be effective in the zone offense. Iowa went zone a good bit, trying to force Virginia, shooting 32.5 percent from three coming in, to try to score from the perimeter. Tony Bennett used Beekman in the middle of the zone to create looks, and he finished with five assists, but he also created looks for himself, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

That Kadin Shedrick needs to be on the floor more. Shedrick’s minutes were limited in the first half with foul trouble – he got just four. He didn’t come off the floor in the second half, and his plus/minus of +14 was by far the best of the rotation guys on the night.

Shedrick finished with nine points, six rebounds and one block, and logged big minutes in the second half checking Iowa sophomore Keegan Murray, who came in averaging 25.7 points per game, but was held to 18, on 7-of-13 shooting, tonight, and had just seven points in the second half.

That people need to shut the hell up about Kihei Clark. No doubt the corner of the message board that hates everybody and everything is blathering about Clark taking and missing the final shot. Clark had a game tonight: 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 3-of-4 from three, five assists, two turnovers, 38 minutes. His second-half plus/minus was +13, tied with Shedrick. Please, enough with the Kihei shouldn’t play nonsense that we’ve had to deal with for four years now.

That Francisco Caffaro (two points, six minutes, -14 plus/minus) and Kody Stattmann (no points, seven minutes, -7 plus/minus) are going to see their minutes limited. Caffaro didn’t even get minutes with Shedrick in foul trouble, so the writing is on the wall there. Stattmann just lost his minutes to Murray, who only finished with a plus/minus of +2 because he had some defensive lapses, but his offense and toughness are too much to ignore.

That Armaan Franklin (three points, 1-of-7 shooting, 32 minutes, +5 plus/minus) is still an enigma. Advertised as a shooter, Franklin hasn’t delivered there yet (42.3 percent from the floor, 26.2 percent from three). He’s earning his minutes through effort and productivity on the defensive end. You have to assume that the shooting will come (he was 42.4 percent from three last year at Indiana). Once it does, he’ll surpass expectations.

Tough loss, but nothing to hang your head about. There were 10 NBA scouts behind me on press row, including guys from the Lakers, Warriors, Jazz, Wizards, all there to see Keegan Murray light it up.

That’s a good Iowa team that will compete in the Big Ten.

This is a work-in-progress Virginia team that three weeks ago lost at home to Navy.

The work is evident, as is the progress.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press