LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Despite not making a field goal in the final 3:06 of game, No. 7 Virginia (20-4, 12-3 ACC) grinded out its sixth road win of the season after downing Louisville (3-23, 1-14 ACC), 61-58, at KFC Yum! Arena Wednesday night (Feb. 15). The Cavaliers put together a defensive stop on the Cardinals’ final possession after UVA led by as many as 10 points in the second half.
Wednesday’s result solidified Virginia’s 11th 20-win season in the last 12 years under head coach Tony Bennett. The victory also extended the Cavaliers’ win streak in the series to six games, while Bennett improved to 16-2 all-time against Louisville.
Virginia was led by Kihei Clark, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting and dished out six assists. With 10 points and 11 rebounds, Ben Vander Plas collected his first double-double in a UVA uniform. Armaan Franklin (14 points, 5-8 FG, 5 rebounds) and Jayden Gardner (10 points, 5-10 FG) also scored in double figures for the Hoos.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After trailing by as many nine points [26-17], Virginia closed out the first half on a 12-0 run to lead the Cardinals, 29-26, at the intermission. Franklin and Vander Plas combined to score all 12 points during the UVA scoring run. The Cavaliers dug themselves a hole early after starting the game 0 for 6 from the field. Virginia’s defense closed out the half by holding the Cardinals scoreless in the last five minutes of the opening period.
The Cavaliers forced four Louisville turnovers in the first half, while UVA committed none. Franklin led UVA with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and pulled down four rebounds in the first 20 minutes of action. Vander Plas had seven points and five rebounds at the intermission.
Midway through the second half, Louisville reclaimed the lead, 42-41, on a made 3 with 10:18 to go, but the Cavaliers responded with a 3 of their own from Isaac McKneely (8 points, 3-4 FG) on the very next possession. After the Cardinals tied the game one last time, 44-44, Virginia orchestrated an 11-1 run, which was capped by six points from Clark to grasp its largest lead of the game, 55-45.
Despite the UVA scoring run, Louisville did not go away handily. A successful jumper in the paint by the Cardinals with 30 seconds remaining made it a one-score game, 61-58. After Virginia struggled to inbound the ball and had to signal for time, Clark was intentionally fouled, but missed the frontend of a 1-and-1. The Virginia defense gave Louisville fits on what turned out to be its final possession of the game. The Cardinals took more than 25 seconds to get a shot off before ultimately heaving up a contested 3, which missed the mark. Vander Plas pulled down his 11th and final rebound of the game and was immediately fouled with less than one second remaining.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO:
Kihei Clark. Clark tied for a team-high 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Nine of his 14 total points came in the second half. Clark also made history in Wednesday’s victory. With his 132nd career start, Clark tied former UVA guard London Perrantes (2014-17) as the program’s all-time leader in games started. Clark’s 14 points helped him crack UVA’s top-25 scoring list, passing Elton Brown (1,356 points). Additionally, with his 71st career win in ACC play, Clark surpassed former Duke standout Shane Battier as the ACC’s all-time career wins leader among league games.
The Cavaliers host Notre Dame (10-16, 2-13 ACC) on Saturday (Feb. 18). Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for Noon.