Virginia controlled Virginia Tech for the first 32 minutes on Saturday night.
Tony Bennett’s team held the lead for most of the game and seemed destined to beat the Hokies. Instead, UVa’s offense went cold, the defense failed to generate stops and the refs blew their whistles.
Virginia Tech trailed 47-44 entering the final eight minutes. The Hokies outscored UVa 21-4 the rest of the game to turn a slim deficit into a blowout 65-51 win. It’s a surprising loss for UVa, which had been playing some of its best basketball of the season prior to Saturday’s showing.
Mike Young and the Hokies (13-3, 7-2 ACC) got the better of Bennett and the Wahoos (11-3, 7-1 ACC) on Saturday night.
Here are three takeaways from Virginia’s loss.
Winning streaks snapped
UVa fans felt heartbreak in 2018 when their team became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Since then, it’s been mostly high points for the Hoos.
Virginia won the national title in 2018-19 and ended last season on an eight-game winning streak before COVID-19 canceled the NCAA Tournament. This season, the Wahoos appear to be hitting their stride.
They ran into a roadblock Saturday night.
The Cavaliers had won 15 consecutive ACC games dating back to last season. With the loss, the streak snaps and the Wahoos move to 7-1 in the ACC. UVa still leads the ACC, even with the defeat.
In the Commonwealth Clash, UVa’s winning streak of four games was broken with the loss. The Cavaliers had won four consecutive games against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Clark fades in second half
UVa point guard Kihei Clark seems to play his best basketball against Virginia Tech.
The junior buried the game-winning 3-pointer in Blacksburg last season after dominating in UVa’s win in Charlottesville. Over two games last season, Clark averaged 14 points on 56.3% shooting from the floor and 60% shooting from 3-point range.
Saturday, Clark shined against his in-state rival. Well, at least in the first half.
Clark started the scoring for both sides when he buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key and gave a quick glance at the Virginia Tech sideline. He didn’t let up in the first 20 minutes, finishing the first half with 11 points with a perfect 3-for-3 mark from beyond the arc.
He was electric.
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Clark’s offensive output faded in the second half. He scored no points in the second half and finished the game shooting 4-of-13 from the field. He didn’t record any assists.
It wasn’t an awful game from Clark by any means, but the Wahoos could’ve used a basketball from the gutsy leader in the final few minutes.
No answer to Aluma
Keve Aluma, a Wofford transfer, sat out last season. The 6-foot-9 forward played Saturday, and he made his presence felt.
The athletic big man used his quickness and 3-point shooting to put pressure on Jay Huff. Aluma forced Huff to guard him on the perimeter and was able to attack the rim when Huff came too close on the outside.
When Huff left the game, UVa tried Francisco Caffaro, Trey Murphy, Sam Hauser and Justin McKoy on the big man. Unfortunately for the Wahoos, no player came up with the answers to stop Aluma. UVa missed center Kadin Shedrick, who has missed the past few games with a health issue.
Aluma finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. He went 10-for-15 from the floor and 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
In his first Commonwealth Clash, Aluma stole the show and led his squad to a victory.