Virginia tops Navy, 65-56, in final non-conference tuneup

uva basketballVirginia used a 12-0 second-half run to overcome what is starting to become a trait, sloppy ball protection, to turn back a determined Navy team 65-56 here Sunday afternoon.

Just a week removed from a 19-turnover debacle in a home loss to South Carolina, the Cavaliers committed eight miscues today, including seven in the final half of action.

Braxton Key, playing in his third game back after having his left hand surgically repaired, had five points during the pivotal stretch for UVA, including an electrifying put-back dunk, soaring down the lane grabbing a missed shot with his right hand and slamming it home.

Key had a solid afternoon for Virginia, scoring 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting while grabbing seven boards for the Cavaliers, who climbed to 10-2 on the season, including a perfect 2-0 in ACC action.

Key, who missed three games to the hand injury, was noticeably more mobile and comfortable than last Sunday against the Gamecocks.

“I try to do whatever the team needs to win,” said Key. “If I have to score, I’ll do that,” added Key.

For certain, Virginia can use Key’s offensive contributions. The 65 points scored against the Midshipmen tied the season high for UVA, which scored 65 earlier this year against James Madison University.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said he can see the comfort level increasing with Key’s play.

“He’s steadily gotten more time and played better, and we need it,” noted Bennett. “I just keep challenging him to be great as he can be defensively,” said Bennett.

Offensively, it was a tale-of-two halves for the Cavaliers. Leading 37-29 at intermission, the turnover bug bit the Hoos’ again. After just one first-half miscue, UVA’s sloppy ball handling reared its ugly head, which resulted in just three points in the first 11 minutes of second-half play.

While Virginia was stuck offensively, Navy (6-5) chipped away the lead and actually took a brief 41-40 on a 3-pointer at the 10:41 mark.

Virginia then responded with the 12-0 run. The Cavaliers’ decisive run was highlighted by several transition buckets from blocks or forced turnovers.

Jay Huff, who finished the game with four blocks, had two important rejections down the stretch.

Virginia returns back to ACC play next Saturday with a home matchup against Virginia Tech.

Story by Scott German


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