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ACC Roundup - Kihei Clark Does It Again

Virginia’s point guard is evolving into the nation’s best small guard

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Virginia Tech
Feb 26, 2020; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Kihei Clark (0) reacts after making the game winning basket against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum.
Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

In Wednesday’s ACC action, Syracuse just hammered Pitt at Pitt, 72-49, Virginia nipped Virginia Tech 56-53, and Notre Dame escaped BC at the buzzer 62-61.

Boston College went up with about 4:28 left in the first half and kept the lead until Notre Dame went up 60-59 with 1:16 left.

BC’s Jay Heath hit a floater with :08 left and Notre Dame came down in trouble. But Prentiss Hubb got the ball into TJ Gibbs with time running out and he hit a sweet little shot in the lane to give Notre Dame the victory.

With the win the Irish move to 18-10 and into a fifth-place tie with Syracuse. The tiebreaker would go to Syracuse so Notre Dame will need to be definitely ahead to claim 5th place. And that would be a major comeback if they pulled it off. This team was 11-8 on January 25th.

Syracuse won big against Pitt but it may have come with a cost: Buddy Boeheim, son of the coach and an emerging offensive force, sprained his ankle in the first half and sat out the rest of the game. The general feeling is it isn’t too serious but these guys are on a razor’s edge when it comes to conditioning and falling even slightly behind affects your shot and your ability to match your opponent. We’ll see how he does next time out.

Jeff Capel was not impressed: “I don’t think we had the required and necessary energy to start the game and throughout the game,” Capel said afterwards. “Especially for a team that’s lost four in a row.

“The thing is, I don’t think Syracuse had it early, either. That’s what makes it especially disappointing for me with the effort that we put in (Wednesday).”

Meanwhile in Blacksburg, young Virginia Tech was sooo close to pulling off the upset. The problem? The Hokies just don’t know how to manage winning time.


They put themselves in position to win with a nice comeback. When Landers Nolley hit a pair of free throws with 3:31 left, the Hokies were up 51-48. Kihei Clark, who is rapidly becoming one of the best small guards in ACC history, and definitely one of the most clutch, hit a shot to pull Virginia within one.

Then the Hokies started panicking. Jalen shot a rushed three - the worst possible idea against the Pack Line - and Virginia did the most Virginia-ish play ever (limited to the Tony Bennett era): Kody Stattman cut into the lane and pulled the defense to him. Casey Morsell was all alone in the corner, just like Tomas Woldetensae had been at UNC, only more so. He nailed the three - of course he did.

Tyrece Radford missed a jumper then Clark turned the ball over and Hunter Cattoor, usually the smartest of freshmen, shot too fast and whiffed on a three.

Morsell pushed his luck with another three, then Radford drove and got a basket to tie.

Then it was Kihei time.

The tiny guard went to the left, faked to get free, and hit the clutchest of threes to put the Cavs up 56-53.

Two seconds later it was ball game.

There are some ACC players who are really associated with clutch plays. Florida State’s Michael Snaer had a bunch, including one buzzer beater in Cameron. Randolph Childress was an absolute killer. Last year if Zion Williamson had the ball or was near it you knew he would own it. And of course Christian Laettner was the greatest clutch player in conference history.

Well, make room for Kihei.

Last year he made a brilliant pass to let Virginia go into overtime to beat Purdue. He made the pass in Chapel Hill to Woldetensae to gut UNC. And now he hit a clutch three.

We’re pretty sure there are more depending on how you count clutch. It’s a rare thing in any player but how many his size have done it repeatedly? He’s something else.

Everyone is off until Saturday and then it’s a very busy day indeed with six games.