Virginia hits the century mark against Marshall, 100-64

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- On New Year's Eve, the holiday crowd at John Paul Jones Arena saved its most frenzied celebration for the final play.

That was not because walk-on guard Grant Kersey's 3-pointer lifted the home team to victory – the outcome of this non-conference game had long since been settled – but because his trey pushed the University of Virginia men's basketball team to triple figures for the first time in its 10 seasons under head coach Tony Bennett.

With fourth-ranked UVA leading Marshall by 33 points and the shot clock off Monday afternoon, Bennett would have preferred for his team to have held the ball on the game's final possession. But with the Thundering Herd applying pressure defense, Jayden Nixon crossed midcourt and passed the ball to Kersey, who spotted his former Albemarle High School teammate Austin Katstra open in the left corner.

Katstra's 3-point attempt missed, but Kersey, who doubles as one of the Cavaliers' managers, grabbed the long rebound and launched an off-balance shot from beyond the arc.

It dropped through, naturally, and pandemonium ensued at JPJ. In the stands, jubilant fans roared their approval. On the court, Kersey's teammates mobbed him.

"We wanted him to shoot it," said junior guard Kyle Guy, who lives with Kersey.

For the Wahoos, their 100-64 victory over Marshall, which advanced to the NCAA tournament's second round last season, capped the non-conference portion of their schedule. The 'Hoos dominated almost from the opening tip. Four players scored in double figures for UVA (12-0), led by Guy, who was virtually unstoppable.

In front of a sellout crowd that included incoming recruit Kadin Shedrick, a 6-10 post player from Raleigh, N.C., Guy hit 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range and 10 of 14 overall. His 30 points were a career high, as were his seven treys and his eight rebounds.

Guy had no complaints afterward. Still, he admitted he would not have minded posting the first double-double of his UVA career.

"I tried so hard when I went back in [in the second half] to get two more, but they weren't bouncing my way," he said, smiling.

Bennett has coached several other exceptional shooters, including Klay Thompson and Joe Harris, and said Guy shares some qualities with them.

"If he's not squared up, he can kind of shift in the air and turn and then knock it in," Bennett said.

Guy "has beautiful form," Bennett said. "I think it's great how it's textbook [in the way] it comes out, and we work hard on how quick he can get his feet set and how quick he can shoot it, trying to be square. But he has that innate ability when he's not square where he can turn and, boom, get it off. I think that's a separator."

A third-team All-American in 2017-18, Guy wasn't the only Cavalier to torch the Thundering Herd (7-6).

For the game, Virginia shot 53.2 percent from the floor and held Marshall, which came to JPJ averaging 82.2 points per game, to 35.1-percent accuracy. Led by redshirt sophomore De'Andre Hunter, a long-armed 6-7 swingman, the Cavaliers forced the Herd's leading scorer, guard Jon Elmore, into a subpar performance.

Elmore, a 6-3 senior who came in averaging 19.6 points per game, missed 14 of 17 shots from the floor, including 7 of 8 from beyond the arc. He finished with a team-high 14 points, but 12 came after the 'Hoos built a 50-25 halftime lead.

"Dre is a fantastic defender," Guy said, "and his length bothered [Elmore]."

For Bennett, the victory was his 231st with the Cavaliers and 300th as a head coach. (He was 69-33 in three seasons at Washington State.)

"It's another good thing about today," said UVA guard Ty Jerome, who had 14 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Asked about his feat, Bennett said, "I'm thankful … It just means you've had really good players. It means I've been coaching for a while. I've had a great staff. 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 then in the many games that 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."

In addition to Guy, frontcourt reserves Braxton Key and Jay Huff also grabbed eight boards for the Cavaliers, who outrebounded Marshall 45-23. For Huff, that was a career high, and he also scored a season-high 14 points and blocked two shots in his 13:07 of playing time.

Huff, a 7-1 redshirt sophomore, had played only five minutes in Virginia's previous game, a 72-40 win over William & Mary.

"As I've said all along, he shows flashes," Bennett said. "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 … That was good experience for him today."

Another positive for Virginia was the play of Mamadi Diakite, a 6-9 redshirt junior who made his third straight start. Diakite played 21 minutes and totaled nine points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

"He isn't just making a hard effort and then kind of wandering around," Bennett said. "He's staying continuous. I think he's simplified [things] in terms of just being as good as he can defensively and on the glass, and then taking what the game presents offensively … His athleticism and length will be important as we head into conference play."