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Virginia tops UNC-Greensboro, 60-48, to open 2017-18 season

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The offense got off to a slow start, but the Hoos pulled out a win to kick off the season.

NCAA Basketball: NC-Greensboro at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On a beautiful new court, under a beautiful new video board, the Virginia Cavaliers started out the 2017-18 season with a 60-48 win over the UNC-Greensboro Spartans behind 16 points from Kyle Guy. The Hoos were their usual selves defensively, holding UNCG to just 29.4% shooting and 4-for-26 from three.

As to be expected in the first game of the season, the Hoos came out rusty on offense. Virginia started 0-for-5 from three before Guy hit the first of his two first half treys. They shot 8-for-23 (34.8%) in the first 20 minutes, led by Guy with 14 in 17 minutes played. Virginia pulled away a little down the stretch of the first half, taking a 29-20 lead into the break.

Nigel Johnson just missed a three pointer at the buzzer that would have put Virginia’s lead into double digits.

Lucky for the Hoos, UNC-Greensboro was just as shaky offensively, going just 6-for-23 from the field and 0-for-12 from three in the first half. They made all eight of their free throws, however, keeping them within striking distance. Francis Alonso led the way for the Spartans with eight points in the first 20 minutes, and three teammates had four points each for their 20 points.

Devon Hall opened the scoring in the second half with a nice backdoor cut and easy layup, and the Hoos held the Spartans without a field goal for the first 5:47 of the second half to extend their lead to 40-24.

Virginia’s offense hit another lull in the second half, letting the Spartans climb to within eight with 6:04 minutes left as the Hoos had their own five plus minute field goal drought. Hall hit a pair of free throws to push the Hoos back into double digits, but the Spartans hung around. Johnson drove the lane for a layup to push the lead back to 48-38 and the defense forced a turnover on the baseline with 4:20 left. Ty Jerome followed that up with a huge three from the corner - his first of the day - and Wilkins stole the ball to give the Hoos a little breathing room.

Mamadi Diakite played 14 minutes and finished with two points, four rebounds, and a block. Hall contributed 13 points and six rebounds and was aggressive with the ball, taking it into the paint and shooting confidently from deep. He finished 4-for-5 from the field (1-for-1 from three) and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Johnson had six points in his Virginia debut, and showed well on defense. Wilkins added nine points (on 3-for-6 shooting), three blocks, and eight rebounds in 36 minutes with two assists and no turnovers.

Overall, Virginia shot 42.9% from the field and 25% (4-for-16) from three. Turnovers were an issue with 13, and the Hoos only assisted eight of their 18 made baskets. They shot a solid 83% from the free throw line.

Next up, the Hoos host Austin Peay on Monday at 7pm.

MVP

Kyle Guy came out blazing and provided a much needed offensive spark for the Hoos. He finished with 16 points on 3-for-8 shooting (2-for-4 from three). He was quiet in the second half with just two points from the free throw line, but his first half was crucial to get the Hoos going. The now short-haired Guy also added three assists (with no turnovers!) and two steals.

Shoutouts

-The Hoo Crew was loud early and often, starting off the season on the right foot.

-The Virginia Gentlemen performed a fabulous rendition of the national anthem before the game.

-SILENT DRILL TEAM AT HALFTIME.

-Virginia had the good sugar cookies in the press room. #gracious

-UVA band playing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” during the usually super brutal “Smile and Smooch” cam.