A little more than two weeks ago, West Virginia came to the John Paul Jones Arena and ended Virginia’s 24-game home winning streak. On Wednesday night at California, the Hoos played the role of streak spoiler instead.
UVA prevailed 56-52 in a fiercely fought defensive battle and snapped the Bears’ 27-game winning streak at X in the process.
”This is a huge win for us, a huge momentum builder,” Virginia freshman Kyle Guy said on the Virginia Sports Radio Network. ”I think this is going to propel us to do even better in the ACC because this is a hard place to play in – 27 in a row or whatever. We’re pretty excited to snap that streak because Jack Salt said it best – if someone is going to snap our streak, then we’re snapping everybody else’s.”
Guy teamed up with London Perrantes, playing in a homecoming game back in California, to carry the bulk of the offensive load for the Hoos. That duo dropped 31 of the team’s 56 points and dished out 5 assists combined as well. UVA also got 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist from Devon Hall, who handled some tough post defense assignments in a four-guard lineup as well in the second half. Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkins chipped in 5 points each, while Darius Thompson logged 5 assists.
Perrantes did the heavy lifting early as he scored the first 9 points for the visitors. Playing in front of a large group of supporters that included the current team from his alma mater Crespi Carmelite High School, Perrantes asserted himself quickly with several jumpers and a driving and-one layup. In the second half, he added a pair of jumpers off the dribble to reach 14 points.
After Perrantes canned a corner 3-pointer at the 12:31 mark of the second half to secure a 40-31 lead, however, UVA’s offense sputtered. The Cavaliers went scoreless for the next 6:18 as the Bears rallied into the lead with a 10-0 run. That’s when Virginia turned to its heralded freshman guard for a spark. He responded in a big way.
Starting with a jumper on a designed inbounds play, Guy pumped in 7 straight points for the Cavaliers. The next two buckets came on a tough pull-up jumper off the dribble and a contested 3-pointer. That pushed the Hoos back into the lead. Later with the scored knotted at 49-49 with 1:38 to go, Guy turned to his passing skills to make a huge play. He caught a pass from Perrantes, used an on-ball screen from Wilkins, and then fed the junior forward for a layup. Wilkins got fouled on the play and added the free throw as well to give UVA a lead it never surrendered.
Guy finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.
”Before I got to Virginia, I tried to envision myself in these moments so I wouldn’t be nervous or scared or whatever the case may be in these moments,” Guy said on the Virginia Sports Radio Network. ”London told me he believed in me going into the second half and then when I went to knock down those two free throws that were crucial, he told me he believed in me again and I already believed in myself.”
The victory marked the second straight season that Virginia won a slugfest with Cal. A year ago at JPJ, the Hoos needed late 3-pointers from Malcolm Brogdon and Perrantes to win 63-62 in overtime. In Wednesday night’s game, UVA shot 38.% from the floor (22-57), including 30.8% from 3-point range (4-13). The Cavaliers posted just 7 turnovers. California, meanwhile, shot 35.3% from the floor (18-51) and 21.7% from 3-point range (5-23). The Bears took the rebounding category 39-33, but committed 13 turnovers.
The TV cameras captured Cavalier coach Tony Bennett as he let out a fired up fist pump following this season’s tough win. And why not? Thanks to this victory, the Wahoos will open ACC play next week with a 10-1 record in hand. Virginia owns 33-2 record in non-conference regular season games the last three years. The final non-league game this season comes on Sunday, Jan. 29 at Villanova.
”Having to make free throws, seeing Kyle get going, and watching London play well in front of so many people, his family,” Bennett said on the Virginia Sports Radio Network. ”We needed everybody. We struggled early offensively. Our defense kept us in there, but we were pretty shaky. … We’re a work in progress, but tough to come in here and get a win obviously with their record but it was nice to see our guys – nine-point lead, we lost it but then we hung tough and made enough big plays.”