Armaan Franklin matched his career high with 23 points to lead Virginia to a 65-55 win over Georgia in Monday night’s first semifinal at the Roman Legends Classic in Newark, N.J.
The Cavaliers (3-2) will face the Providence winner in the championship game Tuesday night, after the Bulldogs (2-3) take on Northwestern in the third-place game.
Franklin got hot early and late, scoring Virginia’s first nine points of the game and hitting two key baskets down the stretch. Kihei Clark added 12 points and Jayden Gardner had 11 for the Cavaliers, who only turned the ball over four times.
Braelen Bridges scored 14 points to lead Georgia before fouling out with 1:43 left. Jailyn Ingram had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who shot just 14.3 percent (3 of 21) from behind the arc and committed 16 turnovers.
The Cavaliers scored the first seven points of the second half to pull ahead 38-34.
The Bulldogs went back up 44-42 on two Ingram free throws with 10:39 left.
Neither side led by more than four in the second half until a 6-0 run put the Cavaliers on top 53-48 with 4:56 to go.
Back-to-back buckets by Franklin stretched the lead to 57-51 with 2:34 remaining.
Virginia made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 59 seconds to ice the victory.
Georgia coach Tom Crean was denied his 400th career victory. He is 43-52 in his fourth season with the Bulldogs after going 190-96 at Marquette (1999-2008) and 166-135 at Indiana (2008-17).
Georgia led 34-31 at the intermission after a tight first half featuring four ties and four lead changes.
Virginia used an early 11-0 spurt to build a 13-6 lead, with Franklin scoring 11 of those 13 points.
The Bulldogs finished the half with an 8-2 run, aided by a careless Cavaliers foul at the halftime buzzer. Fouled by Francisco Caffaro on his halfcourt heave, Jaxon Etter made 2 of 3 shots from the line.
Georgia’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim, who scored a total of seven points in eight games as a freshman last season at UVA before transferring, scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting against his former team.
–Field Level Media
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