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Clark’s late free throws vs Miami hand Virginia its seventh straight win

Oh hey, a close game!

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Miami-Florida Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Another game, another close win for the No. 22 Virginia Cavaliers. The Hoos got two late free throws from Kihei Clark to secure a 46-44 win over the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday night. With the win, Virginia improved to 22-7 and 14-5 in ACC play.

The offense struggled mightily as the Cavaliers shot just 37% from the field and 33% from three, and Virginia turned the ball over 13 times. Jay Huff led the Hoos with 17 points — all in the first 15 minutes of the game — and added nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Mamadi Diakite started slowly, but finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double.

Clark had just seven points, but none bigger than his final two. The win was the seventh straight for Virginia.

Miami got a team-high 16 points out of Chris Lykes, but the stellar guard left the game in the second half with an eye laceration. The Hurricanes shot just 35% from the field and 24% from three, and gave the ball away 12 times.

In the weirdest start to a game, Huff scored the first 17 points for Virginia. The redshirt third year knocked down three threes and went 7-for-10 from the field as he outscored all of his teammates and all of Miami on the way to a 17-11 lead with 5:36 left in the half. Miami scored four straight points on back-to-back buckets from Lykes before Clark connected on a three to join Huff in the scoring column.

Lykes’s second three of the half made it 20-18, and Diakite burned his man down low to give the Hoos a four-point lead with 2:22 remaining on the clock before the halftime break. Another bucket from Diakite built the advantage to six, but Stone — a 17% three point shooter on the season — hit one from the corner late in the shot clock.

After a held ball, Miami got one final look at the basket before the half. Lykes got a long two to fall, sending the two teams into the break with Virginia holding on to a slim 24-23 lead. Miami’s 23 points were the fewest scored by the Hurricanes in any half this season.

Huff led Virginia with 17 first half points, tying his career high in the first 20 minutes of the game. The Hoos shot 43% from the field and 57% from three (4-for-7) over the first 20 minutes, but turned the ball over seven times. Miami only converted the TOs into four points.

Lykes finished the first half with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and the Hurricanes shot 40% from the field and 30% from three in the half.

Virginia opened the half with its eighth turnover of the game, but Woldetensae came up with a block after a couple Miami offensive rebounds. Clark was called for his third foul of the game on an offensive foul, and the Hurricanes took their first lead since it was 7-6 in the first half thanks to a Vasiljevic three.

Diakite took — and made — the first two free throws of the game to tie things up at 26 with 17:18 to play. With Clark on the bench, Lykes was easily able to blow by the Virginia defense for a layup and the narrow two-point lead, but Stattmann canned a three to put the Hoos back in front, 29-28.

Stone and Diakite traded buckets, keeping Virginia in the lead by a slim margin with just over 13 minutes left in the game. Key finally got a shot to fall, connecting with a layup to give the Hoos a 33-30 lead. Lykes took an elbow from teammate Waardenburg on the play, sending the former back to the locker room with blood coming from a cut on his face.

Miller cut Virginia’s lead to one with two free throws — the first of the game for Miami — before Diakite pushed the Hoos’ advantage back to three with an emphatic dunk after corralling his own miss. Instead of building on its lead, Virginia turned it over again (no. 13), and Vasiljevic made them pay with a three to tie the game with 8:16 remaining.

Key followed up a missed three-pointer from Huff for a put-back to give Virginia the lead right back. Both teams traded buckets, keeping the Hoos ahead by just two down the stretch. A jumper from Clark doubled the Virginia lead with 4:46 to play, but Miami kept things within reach with a layup from Beverly.

One made free throw from Key put Virginia back up by three, but Stone tied the game up once again with another three from the Canes. Miami had a lapse in judgement with just over eight seconds on the clock as Beverly fouled Clark, sending him to the line for a one-and-one. Clark made both, giving Virginia a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Next up, Virginia closes the regular season at home against Louisville. The game is scheduled for 4pm and will be televised on ESPN.