Kaihi Clark had 20 points and became Virginia’s career wins leader as a player with No. 111 as the No. 10 Virginia Tech Cavaliers lost their sixth straight, 78-68 Wednesday night.
CHARLOTTEESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kehey Clark picked a special night to have his best offensive game of the season.
The fifth-year graduate student tallied 20 points and became Virginia’s career wins leader as a player with his 111th win as the #10-ranked Cavaliers handed Virginia Tech its sixth straight defeat, 78-68 Wednesday night.
Armaan Franklin added 15 points and Jayden Gardner 12 for the Cavaliers (14-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). Clark tied Mamadi Diane (2017-20) for the overall wins list with 64 victories in the ACC.
And Clark was integral in helping the Cavaliers hold off the Hokies, hitting 2 of 3-pointers and a pair of free throws in the closing minutes as the Hokies refused to come out.
“We were getting different types, varied shots and Keehi just took advantage of some good driving. He made some real smart plays and then hit a pair of big time 3s. We needed one that was huge,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said.
Clark has spent a lot of credit on his records.
“You know, kind of like what Coach Bennett says: It’s a team award, right? With the guys that I’ve been playing with since my junior year until now, I mean, I’ve played with some great guys. So, being in that conversation means a lot.”
One of those former Cavaliers, Ty Jerome, sat across the field from the Virginia bench with Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry, and when Jerome appeared on the video board, he got a standing ovation. Played in the 2019 National Championship Team.
Being in the building, he said, may have given Clarke a little extra motivation.
“Maybe a little,” he said. “But I mean, you go out, you just, you know, try to play your game and take opportunities as they come, but obviously it gives a little extra motivation with them on the sidelines.”
Darius Maddox led the Hokies (11-7, 1-6) with 13 points and Grant Basil had 12 points. The Virginia Tech losing streak came after the Hokies won 11 of their first 12 games.
Jayden Gardner’s basket to open the scoring in the second half gave Virginia its biggest lead at that point at 42-31, but the Hokies brought it back to single digits on the strength of their 3-point shooting until Gardner’s 3-point play with 7:16 left the score 65-55.
Isaac McNeely’s 3-pointer moments later pushed the lead to 11, but Basile made the Hawkeyes’ 3-pointer into the 10th to make it 68-60 before Clark hit a 3-pointer and Reese Beckman followed with a 3-pointer with 3:52 left, and the Cavaliers finished it off. .
Hawkeyes coach Mike Young said Clark has improved in his fifth year.
“It’s more explosive this year,” Young said. “He looks a little bigger and stronger. You know what a high esteem we have for this young man in our camp. But boy, he’s got a slow fast that’s awesome!”
Virginia Tech finished 12-for-27 on 3 points.
The Hokies used an 11-0 halftime lead to take a 21-19 lead, but Virginia canceled that out with a 21-10 run to close the half.
The Big Picture
Virginia Tech: Hockey big man Grant Basile played just 6 1/2 minutes in the first period after recording two fumbles. He avoided further trouble after the break.
Virginia: The Cavaliers made a concerted effort to attack the edge against the Hockey guards. Virginia scored 26 of its 40 first-half points in the paint and had eight second chance points. They finished with 36 points and 11 second chance points.
The Hockey is back on the road at No. 19 Clemson on Saturday.
Cavaliers on the road in Wake Forest on Saturday.
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