It didn’t look easy at times, but Virginia picked up their second win over Pitt in five days as the Hoos rode Kyle Guy’s hot shooting hand to a 75-63 win. Guy led all scorers with 20 points and London Perrantes chipped in 15 points - 13 in the second half - to help Virginia pull away down the stretch. Pitt had big games from Jamel Artis (18 points), Michael Young (14 points), and Cameron Johnson (20 points) as the Panthers shot 42% from the field. For the game, Virginia shot 49% from the field and 50% from three and committed just eight turnovers in the game. The win makes it four straight ACC tournaments with a victory, and their fourth straight win after dropping four straight games in February.
The Hoos led for the majority of the first half, getting off to a quick start behind three pointers from Guy, Ty Jerome and Darius Thompson. Virginia held a 34-23 advantage at the half, led by Guy with 11 points.
“They made some big shots and actually defensively were solid,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said of his first year guards. “They’ve done that at different times during the year.”
Jerome finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in the game, going 3-for-6 from three.
In a great showing of sharing the ball, the Hoos assisted 10 of 13 first half buckets, led by Jerome with four assists and no turnovers. From the floor, Virginia shot 46% from the field and 50% from three while holding Pitt to 35% and 33%, respectively. Cameron Johnson and Jamel Artis led the Panthers with eight first half points apiece.
Virginia took advantage of Pitt’s mistakes in the first half, scoring 13 points off of seven of their turnovers. The Hoos had just three first half turnovers.
The second half got off to a rocky start as Guy airballed a three as the shot clock dwindled, Michael Young hit a fadeaway, and Jerome turned it over for an easy Pitt bucket, but Guy responded with a jumper from the free throw lane. Pitt, behind 7-for-11 shooting to start the half, climbed to within one at 44-43.
Jack Salt had some highs and lows midway through the second half as he made a diving save on one end, but was called for an atrociously bad foul in which he clearly had position under the basket. Regardless, the foul was his fourth and he went to the bench. Salt had a quietly great game with two huge made free throws and a late dunk for four points.
“Big play,” Bennett said of Jack’s hustle play. “He certainly didn’t look like he had a chance at it. We got a couple of those plays. Those are momentum changers. I tell the guys, ‘It’s about the heart’. At this level, every possession matters, and that one mattered.”
Perrantes, who had a quiet first half with just two points, came on big in the second half as he hit back to back three pointers to give Virginia a little breathing room at 57-49 with 7:18 to play. Defensively, Perrantes made his presence known, tipping a cross-court pass that forced Pitt’s player to step out of bounds on the catch. On the next play, London took it into the lane, battled contact, and finished a dipsy-doo bucket. A forced turnover and a dunk by Wilkins (after two gorgeous passes) led to a Kevin Stallings timeout as the Hoos extended their lead to 61-49 with 5:30 remaining.
Pitt tried to extend the game down 12 with 2:30 to play by fouling, but despite a front end of a one-and-one miss by Devon Hall, the Hoos handled the press with ease and converted from the line to put the game out of reach.
Perrantes, in his fourth (and final) ACC tournament, had words of wisdom for his teammates. “For me, my mentality is to have fun,” Virginia’s lone fourth year stated. “It’s my last go around so I’m just going out, having fun, and trying to lead these guys. I told them...I pulled them all in and told them I love them and I just want to go out there and do what we do best. Don’t put any extra weight on your shoulders. We’ve been here before, we’ve played all these teams before. We know we’re capable of winning. Just go out and have fun. Obviously it’s going to be a grind...but our program is built for stuff like this.”
Guy kept it simple: “I basically just do what he tells me. He’s been there done that...so he’s been a tremendous leader on and off the court, for me especially.”
Virginia will take on Notre Dame at 9pm (read 9:45) tomorrow night in the ACC quarterfinals.