The Virginia Men’s Basketball season gets underway on November 25 as the Cavaliers head to “Bubbleville” at the Mohegan Sun to take on Maine in Uncasville, Connecticut. Before looking forward to the much-anticipated 2020-21 season that has been delayed and disrupted as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, let’s take a moment to look back at the best parts of the 2019-20 season.
Since we are eight days from the new season starting, we’re going to countdown the best eight moments of last season. Let’s get to it!
8. Scoring just three points in OT against Notre Dame and winning, 50-49
Ok, some of you might not think this should be on here, but Virginia’s home win over Notre Dame ended up one of those games you can just laugh at while admiring the Hoos’ commitment to defense. The Irish were one of 12 teams that failed to hit 50 points against the Cavaliers last season as Virginia finished No. 1 in defense according to KenPom. Good luck scoring!
7. Opened the season on a high note at Syracuse
Virginia set the tone for the season when they traveled to Syracuse to kick off the season in ACC style. The Hoos had a conference game to start as the league launched the ACC Network, and somehow the reigning champs had to head on the road to face the Orange. It was not the most aesthetically pleasing game as Virginia made Syracuse earn every point in a 48-34 Wahoo win, but it was a win nonetheless. Two Cavaliers had double-doubles as Jay Huff finished with 12 rebounds and 11 points and [checks notes] point guard Kihei Clark grabbed 11 rebounds to go with 10 points and seven assists.
6. Casey Morsell’s big day vs. Arizona State
Virginia won its seventh straight November tournament — this time the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Championship — with a tightly contested 48-45 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils. First year Casey Morsell was outstanding, scoring a team-high 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
5. Hoos end Florida State’s 10-game win streak
Florida State was VERY good last season. The Cavaliers gave them all they could handle in the game in Tallahassee, with the Hoos falling 54-50 on January 15. Thirteen days later, Virginia got its revenge in a 61-56 victory. Kihei Clark’s acrobatic layup with a minute remaining put the Hoos up for good, and it would give the Cavaliers a victory over a top-5 squad.
4. Seniors sent off with win over Louisville
When the ball was tipped at JPJ on March 7 against No. 10 Louisville, no one knew that it would end up being the final game for the season, let alone the final game as Cavaliers for Braxton Key and Mamadi Diakite. Virginia ended the season on a high note, grabbing a 57-54 win. It was the Hoos’ eighth straight win, including two top-10 wins in three games.
The win also locked the Hoos into the No. 2 spot in the ACC tournament, taking a “rebounding year” and turning it into an impressive 15-5 effort in conference play.
3. Kihei Clark game-winner at Virginia Tech
This was almost the top spot in this countdown, but there were so many great plays this season. In a tie game on the road in Blacksburg, Clark brought the ball up the court as the clock showed 10 seconds to play. He never showed an ounce of nervousness as he got his defender to bite on the drive with a jab step (the next play might give you an idea why the defender would think he was looking to drive and dish). Instead of driving and passing, Clark called his own number and canned the game-winning three in front of a lot of now very sad Hokies.
2. Tomas Woldetensae drills game-winner at North Carolina
If you ever want to etch your name in the lore of Virginia Basketball, go on the road to Chapel Hill and drill a heartbreaking three to win the game for the Hoos. Transfer sharp-shooter Tomas Woldetensae did just that against the Heels, atoning for the foul he committed that gave UNC three free throws and the lead just moments before.
The whole play was a masterpiece as Kihei Clark’s drive and hesitation gave just enough room for the perfect dish. Woldetensae’s side-step three — his sixth triple of the game — was the icing on top.
1. Jay Huff blocks Duke out of JPJ
The Hoonicorn absolutely shone against the Blue Devils in Charlottesville, finishing just one rebound short of a double-double with 15 points, 10 blocks, and nine rebounds. Huff managed a couple of highlight reel-worthy dunks in the game, but his most impressive moments came on the defensive end. His 10th and final block of the game came with just over five seconds left in the game as the unranked Cavaliers clung to a 51-50 lead over No. 7 Duke. Tre Jones found Vernon Carey under the bucket for what looked for an easy layup, but Huff got there in time for the stuff and the win.
After the game, Huff said he was going to go back and check the film to see if a rebound was missed that would have given him the triple-double.
What was your favorite play of the season? Leave a comment below!