The No. 19 Virginia Cavaliers improved to 11-2 and 3-0 in the ACC with a dominating win over the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday afternoon, 65-39. Kihei Clark set a new career high in points in the win as the second year guard put up 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting. He also added six assists and added one steal. Braxton Key matched with 18 points of his own as he notched a double-double with 10 rebounds.
Virginia Tech’s 39 points in the game were the fewest scored by the Hokies since 1967.
Virginia’s defense harangued the Hokies all game, holding them to 27% shooting and 16% from beyond the arc. Virginia Tech came into the game ranked No. 10 on KenPom with a 3P% of 39.4%. Landers Nolley led VT with 18 points, but no other Hokies hit double digits.
The Cavaliers, conversely, shot 46% from the field and connected on 7-of-21 beyond the arc. They assisted 14 of 25 made buckets, and scored 34 points in the paint against the much smaller VT squad.
Morsell opened scoring with a big three from the corner — after the Hokies missed one of its own — and the Virginia defense forced a VT turnover. Diakite was unable to take advantage of the possession, hitting a baseline jumper off the rim. Tyrece Radford put Virginia Tech on the board with a layup, but Key answered with one of his own to push the lead to 5-2 with 1:39 gone in the game.
The two teams traded misses until Clark found Key for a layup in the lane. No one would score for the next 4:16 before Tech hit its second bucket of the game with 12:57 left on the clock to make it 7-4. Chase Coleman entered the game for Clark and immediately forced a turnover that led to a bucket for Stattmann in transition.
The Hokies were called for an offensive foul, but Virginia was called for a foul under the basket on a rebound attempt. Clark put the Hoos in double digits with two made free throws at the 8:44 mark, getting the crowd even more into the game. Nolley responded with his second bucket of the game to make it 11-6, but Key canned a huge three from the outside to give the Cavaliers an 8-point lead.
Tech tried to double team Diakite in the post, but he found Key for a layup under the bucket. On the next defensive possession, Key made an acrobatic play to save the ball from going out of bounds. Clark pushed Virginia’s lead to 11 at the line, but Nolley connected on a three to cut it to 17-9 with 5:42 to play.
Diakite got in the scoring column with a nifty baseline shot, and Tech came up empty on the other end. He scored two in a row as the big man followed a miss from Clark in the lane, pushing Virginia’s lead to 21-9. Nolley got another to go as he drove past Key on the baseline, but Key did the same to Tech’s heralded redshirt freshman on the other end.
Clark’s three was matched with an and-one play from Nolley with 1:28 left in the first half as the Hoos led 26-14. A drive by Clark pushed the lead to 14 as Virginia doubled up the Hokies, but Nolley once again answered — this time with a three. Huff sent a pass into the seventh row of the crowd, giving Tech a chance to close within single digits. Virginia took advantage of a questionable out of bounds call as Huff found a streaking Stattmann for a dunk to close the half up 30-17.
Nolley had 15 of Virginia Tech’s 17 first half points, going 6-for-10 from the field and hitting both of the Hokies’ three pointers. As a team, Tech shot 7-for-24 (29%) from the field and 2-for 12 (17%) from three. Virginia forced eight turnovers in the half to go with one block and three steals. VT had just two offensive rebounds in the first half, but got no points off of them.
Offensively, Virginia shot 46% from the field in the first half as they went 12-for-26. The Hoos went 3-for-10 from three and doubled the Hokies up in the paint, 16-8. Key led Virginia with 11 first half points, followed by Clark’s eight.
Neither team scored for the first 1:41 of the second half until Radford connected for two at the line. Clark got the Hoos on the board with a tough layup, and Nolley missed from deep on the other end. Key hit his second three of the game, giving Virginia its largest lead to that point at 35-19. Another Clark layup was sandwiched between makes from PJ Horne in the lane, making Horne the first VT player to score that wasn’t Radford or Nolley.
Clark kept his paint game going with his third driving layup of the half, and he added the bonus point from the line to give Virginia a 40-23 lead with 14:47 left to play. Key’s shot at the rim wouldn’t go, sending the senior tumbling to the court. Tech tried to push with numbers, but Stattmann came up with a block and Clark found Key for the easy outlet and bucket.
Tech cut Virginia’s lead to 17 with a put back after an air-balled three-point attempt. Clark hit his career high in points —16 points — as he made the first of three free throws after picking up a foul beyond the arc. After one made FT from the Hokies, Virginia continued to build upon its lead with a three from Tomas Woldetensae.
The two teams traded threes and Naheim Alleyne added a runner to make it 54-36, Virginia, with 7:55 to play. A Morsell dunk made it a 20-point game in favor of the home team, and the first year came up with a steal that ended with another bucket for the Hoos. Nolley’s first bucket of the second half — a three — closed the Hokies within 58-39 with 3:50 to play.
Tech wouldn’t score again as the Hoos piled on seven more points before the final horn sounded.
Next up, Virginia heads to Boston College for a 7pm game on Tuesday, January 7.