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Kihei Clark heroics undo disastrous second half against Virginia Tech, 56-53

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Clark’s three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left the difference in the game.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Virginia Tech Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Despite holding the Hokies to just 11 first half points, the stagnant Virginia offense reared its head on the road at Virginia Tech. The Hoos blew a 15-point lead in the second half as Virginia Tech got hot from three, but a huge three from Kihei Clark with 2.1 seconds left gave the Hoos the lead and the 56-53 victory.

It was the fifth straight win for Virginia, and completed the regular season sweep of the Hokies. Virginia improved to 20-7 (12-5 ACC). Virginia Tech dropped to 15-13 (6-11 ACC).

Clark finished with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting (2-for-4 from three), dished six assists, grabbed six rebounds, and nabbed one steal in the game. Mamadi Diakite led the Hoos in scoring with 19 points, and Braxton Key notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Virginia shot 43% from the field and 29% from three for the game, and turned the ball over 11 times.

The Cavaliers went 8-for-10 from the free throw line, including a 4-for-6 mark from Key.

Landers Nolley III led Virginia Tech with 13 points as the Hokies used 9-for-13 (69%) shooting from three to climb back in the game.

The first half was all Virginia as the Hoos jumped out to a 8-2 lead over the first five-and-a-half minutes of the game. A Stattmann three with 9:33 left in the first half gave Virginia a nine-point lead, but Nolley answered with the Hokies’ lone three-point make of the half to cut the Hoos’ lead to 15-9.

Diakite went on a mini 7-2 run of his own over a 3:43 as Virginia built a 26-11 halftime lead.

The fifth-year big man led the Hoos — and Virginia Tech for that matter — at the break with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Clark added five points, four rebounds, and a steal, and Key and Stattmann each had three points.

As a team, the Cavaliers shot 33% from both the field and three. They had four first half turnovers, and turned the Hokies’ five turnovers into four points.

Nolley led Virginia Tech with three points in the first half as the Hokies shot 20.8% from the field and 7.7% from three. Tech’s 11 points in the half were the fewest scored by a Hokie team since joining the ACC in 2004.

Virginia Tech opened the second half with a three from Horne, but Woldetensae responded with one of his own to keep the advantage at 13 points. A flurry from the Hokies over the first five minutes of the game closed the gap to nine points at 35-26. Horne and Bede both hit threes in the stretch.

The Hoos got it back to a 12-point lead with a dunk from Huff, but Virginia Tech cut it to a three point lead with 8:18 to play after threes on three straight possessions. Four free throws from Key and Diakite and two from Nolley gave Virginia a 44-39 lead as the clock ticked through six minutes to play.

Cone connected on another three — the Hokies’ seventh of the second half — cutting Virginia’s lead to two. Nolley tied things at 44-44 on the ensuing possession from the free throw line. Cattoor’s second three of the half put Virginia Tech up for the first time, but Diakite got a layup to go to end a 4:44 field goal drought for the Cavaliers.

A jumper from Radford and two more free throws from Nolley gave the Hokies a 51-48 lead with 3:31 to play. Clark drove the lane for a layup to cut the deficit to one, and, after a VT miss, found Morsell in the corner for a three and a 53-51 lead with two minutes left.

Neither team could score on their next two possessions, and Radford knotted the score at 53-53 with 11 ticks left on the clock. Then it was time for Clark:

Virginia Tech’s final attempt to tie clanged harmlessly off the back board, and the Hoos escaped with the win. Next up, Virginia hosts No. 6 Duke on Saturday at 6pm. The game will be televised by ESPN.