CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — For the second year in a row, Virginia (8-0) and James Madison (7-3) went toe to toe, but this time it was the third-ranked Cavaliers who came out on top as UVA defeated the Dukes 55-50 at John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday night (Dec. 6).
Despite shooting 27 percent from the field, JMU hung around until the end after out-rebounding UVA, 41-33. The Cavaliers shot 50 percent (12-24) from the charity stripe on the night, but UVA successfully maintained its leads for the entirety of the second half.
Virginia was led by Kihei Clark (18 points, 5-11 FG) and Jayden Gardner (14 points, 5-7 FG, 8 rebounds), both of whom scored in double figures for the Hoos.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Virginia led 27-20 at the half after holding the Dukes to 28 percent from the floor. The Cavaliers also forced eight JMU turnovers, but the Dukes out-rebounded UVA in the first half, 24-14, with the help of nine offensive rebounds. Guard Reece Beekman checked out of the game at the 16:13 mark after landing awkwardly on a made layup in transition. A huge dunk in transition by Ryan Dunn got the JPJ crowd on its feet and extended Virginia’s lead to 17-10 with just under eight minutes to play in the half. After scoring seven unanswered – the largest scoring run of the night by either team – UVA grasped its largest lead of the game, 27-16, at the 1:36 mark. JMU made the final two baskets of the half from the paint to shrink UVA’s lead back to single digits at the intermission. Armaan Franklin led all scorers at halftime with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, including 2-for-5 from behind the arc.
The Dukes tied the game 42-42 on a made 3-pointer, which capped a 6-0 JMU run, with just under 8:00 to play. Gardner halted the opposing scoring run with back-to-back makes to get the crowd back into it. After the pair of Gardner made field goals, the Cavaliers went to the free throw line on their next three possessions, but went 1-for-2 in all three trips to the line. On UVA’s following possession, Clark made a layup and drew a foul to give UVA a 51-43 lead, but missed his attempt at the line to convert the possible and-1 opportunity. The Dukes scored seven of the next eight points to cut the UVA lead to 52-50 a minute to play. Dunn made a driving layup through contact to make it a two-possession game, 54-50, with 36 seconds remaining. On the next play, the Dukes retained possession on a missed 3 after the ball grazed a UVA defender and landed out of bounds, but Dunn came up clutch again, forcing an errant JMU pass that landed out of bounds with 10 seconds left. After being intentionally fouled to slow the clock, Clark went 1-for-2 at the line to extend the Cavaliers’ lead to 55-50. JMU heaved up a 3-pointer that missed the mark as time expired. Clark (14) and Gardner (8) combined to scored 22 of Virginia’s 28 second-half points.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO:
Kihei Clark. Clark led the Cavaliers in scoring for the second straight game and scored 14 of UVA’s 28 second-half points. He was 4-for-6 from the floor in the final 20 minutes of play. Clark dished out a game-high seven assists. He also only came off the floor once and logged 39 minutes of action in Tuesday’s win.
The Cavaliers return to John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday (Dec. 17) to host top-ranked Houston (8-0). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN2.