On Friday night, the #16 ranked Virginia Cavaliers picked up their first top 5 win in 2 years, taking down #5 Baylor 86-79 in Las Vegas in the Semifinals of the Continental Tire Main Event to move to 3-0 to start the season.
Before the game, both teams observed a moment of silence to pay respects to the three UVA football players that tragically lost their lives last weekend. Every player on Virginia wore a patch on their jersey with the numbers 1, 15, and 41 to honor Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry. The Hoos also had the numbers 1, 15, and 41 just under “UVASTRONG” on their shooting shirts. The shooting shirts had the last names of the three players on the back of the shirts as well.
Earlier in the week, the Baylor men’s basketball team wrote hand notes to each player on UVA to give their thoughts and prayers to the Virginia community.
In the game, neither team started off strong shooting the basketball with both teams defending at a high level. Virginia failed to hit their first three in the first half until there were less than 4 minutes remaining, which would be their only three pointer in the half. As a team, the Hoos went 1/2 from the three point line but still shot a solid 48% from the field. Armaan Franklin and Kadin Shedrick both led the the Hoos in the first half with 8 points, while Ben Vander Plas added 7. For Baylor, LJ Cryer had the hot hand for the Bears in the first half, hitting 3 threes to finish with 13 points. Adam Flagler added 8 points in the half as well. As a team, the Bears went 7/17 in the first half from the three point line, which was good enough to take a 33-30 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Virginia completely caught fire in what can only be described as a Cavalanche. The Hoos could not miss from the three point line, shooting an impeccable 8/12 from three in the second half to help score a total of 56 points in the final 20 minutes of the game. Franklin led the way for the Hoos, finishing with a game-high and career-high 26 points on 7/12 shooting from the field and 3/6 shooting from three. He also played at a high level on the defensive end of the floor, adding a season-high 3 steals. Shedrick also got in on the action for the Hoos, doing a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor to finish with 17 points on a perfect 6/6 shooting to go along with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Vander Plas had the hot hand in the second half as well to score 14 points for the game on 4/5 shooting. Reece Beekman also recorded his second career double-double, finishing with 10 points and 10 assists. As a team, the Hoos would finish the game shooting over 55% from the floor and 64% from the three point line. The Cavaliers also got to the free throw line early and often against Baylor, finishing 27/35 from the charity stripe to come away with a statement 86-79 win over the #5 ranked Bears.
For Baylor, Keyonte George led the way for the Bears, finishing with 20 points. Cryer wasn’t nearly as effective in the second half but still recorded 19 points for the game on 8/12 shooting. Flagler and Caleb Lohner were also in double figures for Baylor, adding 15 and 11 points respectively. As a team, the Bears shot the basketball really well in defeat, still scoring a solid 79 points in the game. The Bears went 11/26 from the three point line and shot over 48% from the field as a team.
Following the massive win, Coach Tony Bennett spoke about playing just days after the tragic shooting in Charlottesville: “Win or lose, there was perspective in this game for us, and we wanted to try to honor, to the best of our abilities, our football team and our staff and then of course the young men that went to be with the Lord. It felt good to do that at the end.”
The 3-0 Cavaliers will be back on Sunday in the Championship game of the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas at 3 PM against the #19 ranked Illinois Fighting Illini.