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No. 16 Virginia hangs on after wild second half rally to stun No. 5 Baylor

The win came in what was the first major athletic event for the school since three Virginia football players were shot and killed on campus on Sunday.

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Virginia Cavaliers guard Armaan Franklin
Armaan Franklin led Virginia past Baylor on Friday night in Las Vegas in what was the university’s first major athletic event since three football players were killed on campus earlier this week. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today)

Though they nearly let it slip away, Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers picked up a much-needed upset win on Friday night in Las Vegas.

No. 16 Virginia, thanks to a huge run to open the second half, stunned No. 5 Baylor 86-79 at T-Mobile Arena. The win came in what was the first major athletic event for the university since three Cavaliers football players were shot and killed on campus on Sunday.

“We know the pain and grief that so many are going through in the football program and those young men and the coaching staff, and then on another level the families,” Bennett said. “We’re kind of the ripple effect, a lot of our guys were close to those young men … We just talked about after, you played hard, you played free, whether you won or lost it was OK, but you honored the right things.

“Situations like that, they really do put things in perspective … This isn’t all there is. This isn’t the end, I believe that with all my heart. Something horrible, we just pray somehow, someway, some things can come from it that are positive and good. I know there’s a lot of crushed spirits and brokenhearted people, and we’re praying for those people, but to have that performance — it’s just a game, but if it brought some momentary joy to any of those guys, thank goodness for that.”

A Virginia student and former football player is facing second-degree murder charges after he allegedly killed three people — football players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry — on Sunday night after they returned to Charlottesville after a school trip to Washington, D.C.

The football team canceled its final home game of the season on Saturday. The basketball team wore a patch on their jerseys on Friday night in Las Vegas honoring the three football players.

“I talked to Tony Bennett, and wanted to see how they’re doing,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said before the game. “Actually our players all wrote their team notes. Obviously their minds are going to be on something different, and they’ve got a lot of people praying for them.”

Baylor had a solid handle on the game early on, and took a three-point lead to the locker room at the break. That, though, is when Virginia finally sparked.

The Cavaliers used a massive 22-3 run spanning nearly seven minutes early in the second half to completely blow the game open. They were suddenly up to a 21-point lead, and went 8-of-11 from behind the arc during that stretch. Everything was falling, and there seemed to be nothing the Bears could do about it.

Baylor eventually fought its way out of that hole, and cut the game back to single digits repeatedly late in the half with mini runs of its own. The Bears got it to just six points with a Dale Bonner layup with just a minute left, too. That, however, was as close as they got.

Virginia held on and went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final stretch to seal the seven-point win.

Armaan Franklin led the Cavaliers with a career-high 25 points in the win while shooting 7-of-12 from the field. Kadin Shedrick added 17 points, and Reece Beekman finished with 10 points and 10 assists.

Keyonte George led Baylor with 20 points, and LJ Cryer finished with 19 while shooting 8-of-12 from the field. The B

Virginia will now take on the winner of UCLA and Illinois in Las Vegas on Sunday. Baylor will go up against the loser of that matchup to wrap up the four-team event in Nevada.

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