CHARLOTTESVILLE — There was no Key to Virginia’s latest men’s basketball victory.
At least not the upper-case variety.
As usual, defense was the lower-case key for unbeaten Virginia as the Cavaliers polished off Maine 46-26 as Braxton Key watched from the bench with his left wrist in a sling.
Key, the Cavaliers’ leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, was injured Sunday in the second half of UVa’s comeback victory over Arizona State in the Air Force Reserve Tipoff.
He was injured in the final minute of the Arizona State game when he drove for the basket and landed on his wrist.
“Braxton had surgery on his [non-shooting] wrist; I’ll get that out there,” UVa coach Tony Bennett said. “When he’s coming back, we’re not sure.
“That’s where that is. Obviously, that’s a tough blow because he brings some heart and effort on the glass and energy defensively and just his experience.”
It matched the lowest point total by a UVa opponent in Tony Bennett’s 10 seasons as head coach. The last time the Cavaliers held an opponent to 26 points was in a 45-26 victory over Rutgers.
There had been a span of 170 games before the Cavaliers held an opponent to 26 points again Saturday.
The Black Bears (2-4) did not have a field goal over the final 8:40.
“This is a place that is familiar to me and special,” said Maine coach Richard Bannon, who had a family connection to former Virginia coach Terry Holland and worked camps at UVa.
“I told our guys before the game, ‘If I remember pick-up games at U-Hall as a 50-year-old, you guys are going to remember this for the rest of your life, no matter the outcome, make sure it’s happy memories.’”
The Black Bears can say that they held the reigning national champions more than 10 points under their season average.
“Today, we were short-handed, but there were some opportunities out there for guys,” Bennett said. “We’ve got to continue to work on our shooting.
“That’s obviously a big eyesore and guys are hesitant at times and uncertain.
“Hopefully, as we get healthier, we’ll be better but the competition certainly will step up and that will reveal even more.”
Big men Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff had 15 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the Cavaliers in scoring Wednesday. Just as important, statistically, was the play of 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard Kihei Clark, who had nine points and five assists, compared to one turnover.
Clark also had a game-high three steals.
“I got on him [against] Arizona State at the end of the half, when he had a bad turnover,” Bennett said. “He’s our heart and soul. I kind of use him as an example. We’re going to have to play as hard as he does on every possession. Everyone. That’s the call for us to be successful.
“And he brings it ... at both ends. He’s got that warrior mentality. He’s very efficient and we needed that.”
The UVa players weren't disappointed at all by the point total.
"At halftime, [strength coach] Mike Curtis said he didn't want us to let that team get there and there would be some consequences to it," senior Mamadi Diakite said. '
"So, not wanting to do more stuff later on this week, I challenged then guys to get down and make sure the other team doesn't get anything and they only get the best out of us."