The last time Armaan Franklin played in New Jersey, he was held scoreless and injured in Indiana’s road loss at Rutgers on Feb. 24. It was the only game last season when Franklin didn’t score a point.
Monday night, Franklin — now at Virginia — was back in the Garden State. Things went much better.
Franklin scored 23 points, equaling his career high, and grabbed six rebounds as UVa pulled away from Georgia late for a 65-55 win in the Legends Classic semifinals in Newark, New Jersey.
"He shot the pull-up. He got to the rim," said UVa coach Tony Bennett. "He showed some completeness."
The Cavaliers (3-2) will face Providence in the classic’s title game Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Friars (5-0) held off Northwestern (4-1), 77-72, on Monday in the second semifinal.
Franklin came out hot, scoring Virginia’s first nine points of the game on the way to his biggest night since transferring from Indiana.
“We knew he would be a tough matchup because of how aggressive he is, how well he attacks the rim,” said Georgia coach Tom Crean, who recruited Franklin while coaching at Indiana.
Senior point guard Kihei Clark scored 12 points and senior forward Jayden Gardner added 11 points and 6 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Kadin Shedrick was held to just three points and played the second half in foul trouble, but Shedrick impacted the game with 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
Franklin scored Virginia’s first nine points, giving it its first lead at 9-6 on a 3-pointer with 14:39 left in the half. He then fueled an 11-0 run, scoring nine of those points, and helping the Cavaliers build a 13-6 lead with 13:34 to play before the break.
Georgia answered with a 12-5 run to tie the game 20-20 with 8:29 left in the half.
The Bulldogs led 34-31 at the half, ending the stanza on a 9-2 run that included drawing foul on a final-play heave. Francisco Caffaro challenged Jaxon Etter’s long, longshot at the buzzer. Etter came down into Caffaro, who was whistle for the foul.
Etter hit two of his three free throws.
The call against Caffaro would be a significant one later in the game. Caffaro, Gardner and Shedrick — UVa’s three post players — all had three fouls on them with 11:34 to play. A minute later, Caffaro and Shedrick each had their fourth, leaving the Cavaliers in a precarious front-court position the rest of the night.
Despite that, Virginia used a turnover-fueled 6-0 run to open up a 53-48 lead with 4:57 to play. But the Cavaliers went cold late in the game, hitting just one of seven shots in one stretch as Georgia pulled within a basket.
The win wasn’t the only encouraging sign for Virginia. After struggling with turnovers through its first four games this season — it committed 54 in those contests, an average of 13 per game — it turned the ball over just four times Monday night.
“Still some errors but closer to what it’s going to take,” said Bennett.
Defensively, the Cavaliers continue to use their length and athleticism to be disruptive, forcing 15 turnovers in the game. That and Shedrick’s continued emergence as a shot-blocker has UVa rounding into form defensively.
Offensively, Virginia still struggled with its outside shooting, going 5 for 20 from 3-point range. Franklin, despite his big point total, wasn’t exempt from those issues. He went just 1 for 7 on his 3s, but scored effectively on an array of mid-range jumpers.
Georgia's Jabri Abdur-Rahim, who transferred to the Bulldogs program from UVa after last season, got his second career start Monday night, against his old team. He scored four points and had four rebounds in 27 minutes.