No. 3 Virginia will look to remain undefeated through seven games for the second time in four seasons when it hosts reeling Florida State to open Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.
Virginia’s Jayden Gardner made a go-ahead jumper with 39.9 seconds left and blocked Jett Howard’s 3-point attempt just before time expired to secure a 70-68 win at Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.
Florida State (1-8) is coming off a 79-69 home loss to No. 5 Purdue on Wednesday, the Seminoles’ fourth straight loss after setbacks to Siena, Stanford and Nebraska — all by double figures.
Virginia (6-0), which owns nonconference wins over then-No. 5 Baylor and then-No. 19 Illinois, remained unbeaten by winning its first true road game of the season against the Wolverines.
Reece Beekman had 18 points, five assists and four rebounds, while Kihei Clark added 16 points and four assists and Gardner posted 12 points and 11 rebounds. Kadin Shedrick chipped in 12 points and Ben Vander Plas finished with 10 points.
Virginia is one of the ACC’s most experienced teams. Of the five Cavaliers who scored in double figures against Michigan, only Beekman has been in college for fewer than four years.
“That stuff, that matters,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of his team’s experience. “There’s no substitute for it. I’ve said that a hundred times and I think that was important.”
The Cavaliers trailed by 11 at halftime and by six with 10:43 to go before rallying against the Wolverines.
“You just can’t lose your way,” Bennett said. “No matter how it looks, you just keep chipping away, and that’s what the guys did.”
The balanced Cavaliers are led in scoring by Armaan Franklin (11.8 points per game), Beekman (11.8), Gardner (11.5) and Shedrick (11.3). Gardner leads the team in rebounding (6.0), Beekman in assists (5.2) and Shedrick in steals (2.0) and blocks (1.3).
Florida State led Purdue 47-46 following Tom House’s 3-pointer with 14:33 remaining, but the Boilermakers responded with a 9-0 run to take a 55-47 lead on Caleb Furst’s 3-pointer.
Darin Green Jr. scored 23 points for the Seminoles, while Matthew Cleveland added 20 points and six rebounds. Caleb Mills chipped in 10 points and Cam’Ron Fletcher finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
“You never like to play as hard as we did and come up with a loss but we’re showing that we’re growing up a little,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We’re showing that we’re adjusting mentally and emotionally to this level of play that we have to consistently have night in and night out for us to be successful.”
Green averages a team-high 12.7 points per game, followed closely by Mills (12.3) and Cleveland (12.3) with Fletcher averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds.
Florida State’s only win was an 81-72 defeat of Mercer on Nov. 21.
The Seminoles have won four of the past five meetings against the Cavaliers, including a 64-63 win in Charlottesville last season (Feb. 26).
–Field Level Media