College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, February 27, 2017
After four straight losses - to Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, and Miami - Virginia's season was on the ropes, the Cavaliers having dropped from #12 in the rankings to #23 in the most recent poll (2/26) at 18-9.
Then, along came freshman Kyle Guy, who came in off the bench to light up the NC State Wolfpack with 19 points in Saturday's 70-55 victory. So solid was the effort that head coach Tony Bennett named Guy a starter for the home game against North Carolina Monday night.
Guy's response was a huge boost for the Cavaliers, whose style is predicated on hard-nosed defense and opportunistic offense. Leading all scorers, Guy dropped in 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including going 5-for-7 from three-point range. He added four assists and six rebounds, helping the Cavaliers to a 53-43 win over the #5 Tar Heels.
Virginia's defense was exceptionally good in the victory, allowing North Carolina just 35% shooting while forcing 14 turnovers from the Tar Heels. It's the kind of gritty defense for which the Cavaliers have become renowned over the past seven years of Tony Bennett's coaching tenure.
A 6'3" guard from Indianapolis, Indiana, Guy has played sparingly throughout the season, but respectively logged 35 and 32 minutes in the wins over NC State and North Carolina and will likely be a fixture in Virginia's starting rotation through the ACC tournament and into the NCAA tourney later in March.
The win put the Cavaliers at 10 up and seven down in conference play, tied with Miami and Virginia Tech, but just three games behind ACC leader North Carolina in the nation's most-contested conference. A win over 4-11 Pitt on Saturday (3/4) and a win or two in the conference tournament would have Virginia at 11-7 and a near lock for an NCAA invite.