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De’Andre Hunter’s 23 points propels Hoos over Hawks, 73-53

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Redshirt first year has big day as Virginia improves to 4-0.

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

Against Austin-Peay, it was Jay Huff. Against VCU, it was Kyle Guy. Today, the Virginia Cavaliers got a huge boost from De’Andre Hunter. Virginia improved their record 4-0 on the season with a 73-53 victory over the Monmouth Hawks, despite a slow start to the game. Hunter with led all scorers with 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and Kyle Guy (13 points) and Mamadi Diakite (10 points) each reached double digit scoring.

Virginia looked sluggish to start the game, struggling to finish open looks and having trouble staying with their men on defense. The Hoos committed six first half turnovers which is one more than the number they had in the whole game against VCU on Friday.

The Hoos took an 8-7 lead midway through the first half, but Monmouth rattled off an 8-0 run to jump in front 15-8. Hunter stopped the bleeding with four straight jumpers to give Virginia the lead back that they would not relinquish. With the offensive spark, UVA stepped it up defensively, holding the Hawks to just six points over the last 12 minutes of the first half.

Hunter finished with 15 first half points, going 6-for-7 from the floor and added three rebounds. Kyle Guy and Diakite each chipped in six points, and Diakite led the team with five first half rebounds. The Hoos were active in the passing lanes with seven first half steals.

Guy opened the scoring in the second half, pushing Virginia’s lead to 20 right out of the gate. Monmouth hit a couple threes to close the gap to 17, but the Hoos were just too much for the Hawks on both ends of the court.

Diakite broke into double digits with a nifty backwards lay-in after corralling a loose ball under the basket.

Virginia finished the game shooting 52% (26-for-50) and 29% from three (4-for-14) while holding Monmouth to 32% shooting from the field. The Hawks had 14 turnovers in the game and were led by Louie Pillari with 14 points.

MVP

Hunter gave the Hoos a much-needed boost on a day where no one seemed super energized early. He single-handedly erased a seven point deficit and finished with an impressive stat line: 23 points, eight rebounds, one assist, and a steal in in 24 minutes. Much like his redshirt classmate Huff, Hunter scored in a variety of ways with threes, drives in the lane, and pull up jumpers. Having Hunter (and Huff) as options off the bench is going to be a huge advantage as the season progresses.

Shoutouts

-Nigel Johnson (four points, two steals) had yet another solid performance off the bench despite seemingly working out some shooting in the second half. His speed is unmatched on the court and he plays a savvy game. Knows when to take and when to pass.

-Devon Hall continues to be a Swiss Army Knife for Tony Bennett, playing wherever he’s needed. At one point, Hall played the four with Hunter at the three and was able to post up, back down his defender, then kick to the wide open Hunter for a three. Hall finished with six points, three rebounds, and an assist.

-Virginia had a whopping 44 points off the bench and had 30 points in the paint.

-Marco Anthony had a productive nine minutes with three points, two assists, two rebounds, and no turnovers. He can shoot the three and take it to the lane.

-Another Austin Katstra bucket! He made a nice move to evade the defender and pull up for a jumper.

Next up, the Hoos head to Brooklyn to face off against Vanderbilt in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday).