No. 10 Virginia looks to give Wake Forest first home loss

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With Stephen Curry and a few of his Golden State Warriors teammates watching No. 10 Virginia’s win over Virginia Tech, Reece Beekman treated them to an NBA-worthy highlight.

With the final seconds of the first half ticking off the clock Wednesday night, the Cavaliers guard bolted down the middle of the lane, rose and threw down a spectacular one-handed slam dunk, prompting Curry to spring from his front-row seat.

It was the defining moment as Virginia (14-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its fourth straight game, 78-68. Next up for the Cavaliers is an intriguing clash of teams in high gear Saturday at Wake Forest (14-5, 6-2), which has won all 10 games this season in Winston-Salem, N.C.

With his quick move and explosion to the hoop, Beekman showed he is fully recovered from ankle and hamstring injuries that hampered him as the Cavaliers lost three of five games in a span of 18 days.

“It’s been a minute for me with the dunks,” Beekman said. “I’ve been trying to get back to that category. So that one felt good, just to be able to still feel like I’ve got it.”

With a healthy Beekman, Virginia has regained the form from the season’s first month when it won its first eight games and rose to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.

On Wednesday, Virginia’s backcourt of Beekman (11 points, seven assists), Kihei Clark (20 points, five assists) and Armaan Franklin (15 points) fueled the attack as the Cavaliers hit 50.9 percent of their shots and committed just five turnovers against the Hokies.

“There were a couple of good guards in attendance tonight, so I think they wanted to play well,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett quipped, referring to Curry and Warriors teammate Ty Jerome, part of the Cavaliers’ 2019 national championship team.

“The guards made timely, big baskets.”

In the frontcourt, Virginia is increasingly turning to 6-8 Ben Vander Plas (10 points, seven rebounds vs. Virginia Tech) over 6-11 shot blocker Kadin Shedrick. The versatility of Vander Plas, who is a deft passer and 3-point threat, has helped facilitate the flow and spacing of the offense.

Wake Forest also has a four-game winning streak, including two ACC victories on the road.

At home on Tuesday, the Demon Deacons handed No. 19 Clemson its first league loss, 87-77, behind Tyree Appleby (24 points, seven assists, five steals) and Andrew Carr (18 points, 11 rebounds).

Cameron Hildreth and Damari Monsanto added 17 points apiece as the Demon Deacons led by 15 early in the second half and remained in complete control.

It was a satisfying victory considering the Tigers ran away from Wake Forest in the second half of a 77-57 win on Dec. 2.

“We couldn’t have won this game in November, December. I thought last time, we just got sped up,” coach Steve Forbes said. “Now we seem to understand that we have to put the pedal to the metal.”

Bennett and Virginia handed Wake Forest nine straight losses, including four in Winston-Salem, before the Demon Deacons ended the curse last year in Charlottesville with a 63-55 win.

–Field Level Media

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Field Level Media was founded by sports media executives with more than 40 years of combined experience working with the most influential media companies in the industry.

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