BROOKLYN – During a four-minute span halfway through the first half Thursday, some Virginia fans on the front row at the Barclays Center shouted out: “Look who’s coming to dinner!”
Why did that gleeful cheer hit the air and what did it mean? Look no further than UVA sophomore Kyle Guy for the answer. It’s no secret that Guy had struggled with his shooting touch entering the ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center this week, but during that four-minute stretch he showed the Jiffy Pop potential coach Tony Bennett always talks about when he says Guy is just one shot away from a hot streak.
A 3-pointer on the left wing. Pop. Another jumper. Pop, pop. A designed play out of a timeout for a triple to the right of the top of the key. Pop, pop, pop. On that last one, Guy smiled and said he didn’t even hold his follow through it felt so good.
And those Hoos on the front row were loving it. So was fellow sophomore Ty Jerome, who said that’s what Guy does.
“So happy, but I expect that from him honestly,” Jerome said. “Even when he’s not on, he jumps up in the air and it looks so pretty so I always expect it to go in. When it went in today, I wasn’t surprised and I was really happy for him and it was huge for us.”
Guy entered the ACC Tournament searching for his touch. He shot shot 32.5% (40 of 123) from the field over the last 10 games of the season and hit 40% just twice in that span (47%/10-21 against Louisville and 40%/2-5 against Miami). In the last five games, he trimmed his shot selection to just 6.8 shots per game in sort of a waiting out the storm approach.
Then against Notre Dame, he collided with Martinas Geben, who is listed at 77 pounds heavier and eight inches taller than Guy. That led to what he called a sprained MCL and a bulky brace on his left knee for this week’s tournament.
In other words, the Indiana native was facing some adversity. So after he started 0-2 against Louisville on Thursday, getting that first basket to go down over similarly-sized Ryan McMahon (6’2” vs. 6’0”) seemed to breath some air into the confidence balloon.
“Yeah definitely. I hadn’t been shooting it well and then with the knee injury, it was really good to see one go in,” Guy said. ”I think that helped sparked the rest of the game.”
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After the four-minute flurry of three made shots passed, Guy added another 3-pointer later in the half on an extra pass play from Devon Hall on the perimeter. By the time the game ended, he was feeling good enough to try a dunk on pressbreak play in the final minute of UVA’s 75-58 win against the Cardinals.
And why not? He had just posted a game-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with seven rebounds, one steal, and one assist too. That marked the first time since scoring 22 points against Louisville on Jan. 31 that he’d even surpassed the 15-point barrier. He had zero points in the regular season finale against the Irish and scored in single digits in three of the last four games on the schedule.
Guy stuck with it, though.
“Just trust in the process. I mean yeah I missed quite a bit of shots I usually make so there’s always that sense of staying aggressive and making shots,” Guy said. “I just tried to believe in myself and my family and close friends were supportive the whole time.”