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No. 10 Virginia hands Virginia Tech 6th straight loss

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team regained the services of Hunter Cattoor on Wednesday night.

But it has once again lost the services of Rodney Rice.

And it once again lost a game.

Tenth-ranked Virginia beat the Hokies 78-68 at John Paul Jones Arena, handing the Hokies their sixth consecutive defeat.

Virginia (14-3, 6-2 ACC), which led the entire second half, won its fourth straight game.

The Hokies (11-7, 1-6), who are in 12th place in the ACC standings, lost at John Paul Jones Arena for the fourth straight time.

Cattoor returned to the Tech starting lineup after missing the past four games with a bruised elbow. The senior guard suffered the injury late in the second half of a Dec. 21 overtime loss at Boston College — the first game of Tech’s losing streak.

Cattoor, the team’s 3-point ace and best perimeter defender, had 11 points, three 3-pointers, six rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes Wednesday.

But Virginia Tech announced before the game that Rice, a freshman reserve guard, broke a finger in his right hand at the end of practice Saturday. He will undergo surgery Friday. He is out indefinitely.

The highly touted Rice has played in only one college game so far. He missed the Hokies’ first 16 games after breaking his right ankle in August and undergoing surgery. He made his college debut in Tech’s loss at Syracuse last week.

Virginia Tech’s six-game losing streak is the Hokies’ longest skid since Buzz Williams’ first Tech team lost seven in a row from Feb. 14, 2015 to March 7, 2015.

The Hokies’ 1-6 ACC mark is the team’s worst league record through seven ACC games since Williams’ first Tech team also lost six of its first seven ACC games.

Kihei Clark had 20 points and five assists for UVa. Armaan Franklin had 15 points. Jayden Gardner had 12 points. Reece Beekman had 11 points and seven assists. Ben Vander Plas had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Darius Maddox had 13 points and three 3-pointers for the Hokies. Grant Basile had 12 points. Justyn Mutts had 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Sean Pedulla also had 10 points.

Down 42-31 early in the second half, the Hokies went on a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 46-44 with 15:10 to go. Maddox had two 3-pointers in the run.

UVa answered with five straight points to extend the lead to 51-44 with 13:53 remaining.

After Pedulla made a 3-pointer, Basile scored to cut the lead to 51-49 with 12:16 to go.

But UVa answered with a 6-0 run. Isaac McKneely made two free throws to extend the lead to 53-49 with 12:01 to go. He made a layup for a 55-49 lead. Clark made two free throws for a 57-49 lead.

Mutts scored to cut the lead to 57-51, but Clark answered with a basket.

Mutts made back-to-back baskets to cut the deficit to 59-55 with 9:18 to go.

But Clark drained a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 62-55. After Beekman stole the ball from Cattoor, Gardner made a basket and free throw to extend the lead to 65-55 with 7:16 to go.

MJ Collins scored to trim the lead to 65-57. But McKneely buried a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 68-57 with 6:37 left.

Basile sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 68-60 with 4:51 left, but Clark answered with a 3-pointer.

Beekman made a layup and free throw to extend the lead to 74-60 with 3:52 to go.

Virginia shot 50.9% from the field to Tech’s 49.1%.

Tech made 12 3-pointers to UVa’s eight.

UVa outrebounded Tech 30-27.

Virginia, which is tied for second place in the ACC standings, led 40-31 at halftime.

The Cavaliers shot 54.8% from the field in the first half to the Hokies’ 52.2%.

UVa jumped to an 11-2 lead with 15:46 left in the first half.

Down 19-10, the Hokies went on an 11-0 run to grab a 21-19 lead with 7:57 left in the first half. Maddox had the final five points of the run.

With the game tied at 26, UVa went on a 12-3 run to grab a 38-29 lead with 37 seconds left in the half.

It was the 111th win of Clark’s five-season UVa career, breaking his tie with former teammate Mamadi Diakite for No. 1 on the program’s career wins list.

Some members of the Golden State Warriors were in attendance, including Stephen Curry and ex-Cavalier Ty Jerome. The Warriors had visited the White House on Tuesday.

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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