The Virginia Cavaliers (17-12, 11-8) were defeated by the Florida State Seminoles (15-13, 8-10), 64-63. The Hoos led 56-46 with 3:26 to go, until the Seminoles made their next seven shots to win at the buzzer. With one second to go, Florida State’s Harrison Prieto would launch the ball three-quarters court, and Matthew Cleveland would quickly turn around and put up a three-pointer that would sink UVA as the horn sounded.
At the end of the first half, the Cavaliers led 34-29. Senior Kody Stattmann made his first start of the season over Armaan Franklin in his last home game. UVA made the Seminoles pay off their turnovers, as they scored eight points off five turnovers. Although the Hoos turned the ball over four times, they allowed zero points. Jayden Gardner scored 14 points in the first half, shooting 5-8 from the field. Caffaro added six points and seven rebounds. On the other side, Prieto, who averaged 2.8 points per game, scored nine points and finished with 14.
Momentum shifted late in the second half. The Seminoles were down 10 late, but they managed to crawl back. They ended the game on a 18-7 run in the last few minutes, with most of the damage coming from Cleveland. Over the final stretch of the season, Florida State has been without three of their top four scorers. Cleveland, who is the last of the four remaining, has stepped up nicely in the time of need. He scored 10 points in the last two minutes of the game, while also scoring the last eight for the Seminoles.
After Cleveland’s made layup with six seconds to go, the game was tied at 61. Franklin inbounded the ball to Kadin Shedrick, who quickly returned the pass. Franklin sprinted down the court and found his spot at the free throw line. His pull-up jumper over Prieto and Cleveland would hit nothing but net to give the Hoos a temporary lead. However, one second was left on the clock, and Prieto and Cleveland would get their revenge. After a timeout, Prieto would launch the ball from the Seminoles’ baseline to Cleveland, who would get the quick shot over Franklin for the game-winning three to silence the fans at JPJ.
This loss is devastating for the Cavaliers’ chances of making it to the Big Dance come March. Virginia held a sizable lead in the closing minutes and were unable to hang on. UVA shot 9-32 from the field in the second half, which shows that their poor shooting came back to haunt them. The Seminoles shot 50% in the second half and only allowed six points off seven turnovers. This is a game UVA will wish they had back.
On a side note, it was senior night for Kihei Clark, Kody Stattmann, and Jayden Nixon; these three are the last players from the 2019 National Championship team. Nixon played in 24 total games for the Hoos, including 14 in the 2018-19 season as a walk-on. Nixon, who is a biology major, plans to continue his education at medical school.
Stattmann, a sociology major, played in 75 games for UVA with 11 starts. He has played in every game in the 2021-22 season for the Cavaliers, averaging 3.1 points in 14.8 minutes per game. Stattman’s parents shared the moment with their son, making the trip from Cairns, Australia.
Since day one, Kihei Clark has made an impact for the Hoos. The undersized guard is known for his grittiness and heart to put everything out on the floor. Clark played in 122 games with 102 starts. He is only one of five players in UVA men’s basketball history with 1,000 points and 500 assists. Clark may not always “wow” the stat sheet, but the impact he brought to each game with his passion was always felt by his teammates, coaches, and fans.
Virginia still has one game remaining on their regular-season schedule. They will travel to take on the Louisville Cardinals (12-16, 6-12) on March 5th at 12 P.M. at the KFC Yum! Center.