CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia men’s basketball team picked up its biggest win of the season on Tuesday night, as the Cavaliers upset #5 Florida State 61-56 at John Paul Jones Arena.
The victory against a Top Five opponent was UVa’s first as an unranked team since 2013.
Senior Mamadi Diakite led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds, but Seminoles’ head coach Leonard Hamilton saved the biggest compliments for Kihei Clark.
“Guys like that, have that special ‘It’ factor, that you can’t really identify, but he has it," says Hamilton. "He was probably the biggest factor, and the difference in them winning the game. You got to give him credit.”
Clark says, “When I got the big switched on to me, I used my quickness to my advantage. That was the gameplan. Late game, we kind of just wanted to space it.”
Clark had nine turnovers in the first meeting with Florida State. He cut that number down to four in the rematch, and added 15 points.
Head coach Tony Bennett says, “I thought he was excellent today, and he did the same sort of stuff at Florida State, but learned from some of his errors, and even from some of his errors early on in the game, and kept getting better and better.”
“Second half, that’s the reason why we won the game," says senior forward Braxton Key. "He’s capable of doing that every game, every night, no matter who we’re playing. We have the confidence in him.”
Clark stands just 5-foot-9 inches tall, which means he’s shorter than 99-percent of college basketball players.
Hamilton says, “Sometimes size is misleading. Maybe in sumo wrestling it might make a big difference, but sometimes when you’re small and quick and fast, that has its advantages, too. He’s a very clever guy with the ball. He might be small in stature, but he has the biggest heart in the ACC.”
Virginia is off this weekend. The Cavaliers will be back in action next Wednesday, as they host Clemson.