When Virginia junior guard Kyle Guy first exited his team’s 100-64 win against Marshall on Monday, he was already off to his typical solid day with five points. When he returned, however, he started UVA’s New Year’s Eve celebration with some early afternoon fireworks.
Guy erupted for a career-high 30 points against the Thundering Herd, which included making 6 of his final 7 3-pointers when he returned from his first breather. Most of those were of the nothing-but-net variety. Virginia coach Tony Bennett, a marksman himself in his playing days, was among those impressed.
“Kyle was really shooting the cover off the ball. That was really sweet to see,” Bennett said.
In the end, Guy set career highs in points, rebounds, and made 3-pointers in the victory. He finished with 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. He also grabbed 8 rebounds, 7 off the defensive glass. That extends a hot stretch for Guy, who has scored at least 15 points in six straight games.
Monday’s sizzling effort really heated up after the under-8 media timeout in the first half. He checked back into the lineup at that break and soon tried to drive to the basket, but Marshall’s Jannson Williams swatted away his shot. Guy tumbled to the ground and by the time he bounced back up, teammate Ty Jerome already made something happen on the defensive end when he notched a steal just four seconds after Guy’s shot got blocked. Guy hadn’t made it back into the flow yet so that set up a fastbreak with numbers and Jerome fired an assist out to his backcourt buddy on the left wing.
That shot was an uncontested clean look and swished home. It seemed to set the spark that became the fiery shooting day.
“I know that when Ty is looking for me, or Kihei [Clark] is looking for me that, they go out of their way and that is when I feel the best shooting the ball,” Guy said. “That’s how much I love playing with this dude [Ty Jerome]. He probably could have had a layup or Kihei could have on the other end. I got blocked before that, I think that is what happened, and they were open but they still found me. That’s the kind of chemistry we have.”
Guy was far from the only Hoo to have a big day to wrap up 2018, though. The Cavaliers scored 100 points for the first time in the Bennett era thanks to several strong outings. De’Andre Hunter posted 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Mamadi Diakite tallied 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocked shots as part of the starting lineup. Braxton Key chipped in 7 points and 8 rebounds too.
Jerome and Jay Huff followed Guy on the scoring charts with 14 points each to unleash more firepower. Jerome also posted 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals to his line. Huff, meanwhile, put together one of his best performances yet for the Wahoos.
The redshirt sophomore’s 14 points were a season high and he added a career best six made free throws too. Huff also hauled in a career-high 8 rebounds to match Guy and Key for team-high honors. Huff had 2 assists and 2 blocked shots as well. Beyond the statistics, however, he appeared to flow as well and as continuously as any appearance in his career to date. That included several splashy plays like a fireball cross-court pass from the post to the corner, at least two dunks and two tip-ins, and a near-miss on a long-ranging tomahawk slam that led to free throws.
Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni joked that he’d love to have Huff at Marshall, while Bennett said that the 7-footer had a strong outing.
“I think he presents some challenges for the other team with his ability to stretch it,” Bennett said. “That’s a valuable experience for him. As I’ve said all along, he shows flashes, he’s got to continue to become more consistent, and sometimes that’s the best way to be out there in those situations. He’s done some good things in practice and this was a game where he got more extended minutes. As I’ve said we’ve got our seven-man rotation we’re looking at establishing, is there an eight or a nine in the process? Jay has done some good things, that was good experience for him today.”
The Cavaliers scored 50 points in both halves, which led to a 50-25 lead at the break and a 43-point advantage at one point late in the second half. Manager and walk-on Grant Kersey provided the final points with a heave-ho buzzer-beating 3-pointer that got the Hoos to the century mark and sent the home fans into a frenzy. They shot 53.2% overall (33 of 62) and 44.4% from 3-point range (12 of 27) with 18 assists and 16 turnovers.
The defense, meanwhile, held Marshall to 35.1% shooting (20 of 57) and just 27.3% from 3-point range (6 of 22) from a team that likes to space the floor and shoot. UVA kept dangerous guard Jon Elmore in check as he scored 14 points on 3-of-17 shooting.
All of that helped the Hoos deliver Bennett his 300th career win, making him the 80th active D-1 coach with 300 or more wins. This year’s team is 12-0, while Bennett owns a 231-86 overall record at Virginia. That’s a 72.9% winning rate that includes a 72-6 mark in non-conference games at the John Paul Jones Arena.
“I’m thankful. It just means I have really good players, it means I’ve been coaching for a while, I’ve had a great staff,” Bennett said. “My whole hope is that in my 300 wins I’ve honored and respected the game, the people who’ve poured into my life and what I value as important, and that in the many games I’ve lost, I’ve done the same. And that’s all I can ask for, so I’m very grateful to have been given this opportunity.”