The No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers took care of business on the road to remain undefeated as they knocked out South Carolina, 69-52. Virginia is now 10-0 on the season with two non-conference games remaining on the schedule. This is Virginia’s 11th straight true road win after the Cavaliers went a perfect 9-0 on the road in ACC play last season and now have wins at Maryland and South Carolina.
Ty Jerome led the Hoos with 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting (3-for-8 from three), followed by Kyle Guy with 18 (5-for-11 from three). Jerome added seven assists (with two turnovers) and six rebounds to his all-around solid performance. The Hoos shot 44% from the field and 33% from three in the game, and only turned the ball over five times (once in the second half). Ball movement was crisp for the Hoos, assisting 15 of 26 made buckets.
Mamadi Diakite struggled with fouls in the second half, but contributed 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting with five rebounds, two steals, and a block.
Virginia’s defense was outstanding, holding South Carolina to 36% shooting for the game and holding the Gamecocks to 3-for-18 (17%) shooting from three. Chris Silva used a strong second half to lead USC in scoring with 11 points with Hassani Gravett chipping in 10.
Diakite, who got the start in the place of Kihei Clark who had surgery for his fractured wrist, got the first two scores for the Hoos. South Carolina got their first score of the game with just over 16 minutes to go in the half thanks to a layup from Hassani Gravett.
Clark—to the surprise of many—came in with 16:33 left in the first, just nine days after getting his wrist repaired. He wasted no time as he cut through the lane and finished with a high arcing layup to put the Hoos up 6-2. Keyshawn Bryant connected on a tough fadeaway two over Hunter to keep USC within a bucket.
Jack Salt was unable to convert a hook shot off the dribble, but Hunter was in the right spot to grab the offensive rebound and double up the Gamecocks at 8-4. Braxton Key made one-of-two at the line, and Jerome drove the lane to draw two free throws of his own and pushed Virginia’s advantage to 11-4.
The Gamecocks went on a mini 4-0 run thanks to two free throws and a fast break layup from Evan Hinson with just over 12 minutes to play. Back-to-back layups from Jerome gave the Hoos a little breathing room, but Alanzo Frink connected on another fast break layup, this one off of defensive rebound.
Virginia would build their lead to as many as 10, but missed jumpers by the Hoos and timely makes by South Carolina would keep the home squad within striking distance.
South Carolina cut Virginia’s lead to three on their first make from outside, but Guy responded with his first of the game to put the Hoos up 27-21. Another make by Gravett and a deep three from Frink (his first three point attempt of the season) pulled the Gamecocks within one. The Hoos responded with back-to-back threes from Guy and Jerome to give Virginia a 33-26 lead heading into the half.
Virginia struggled to finish in the first half, shooting just 39% from the field and 33% from three. The Hoos corralled eight offensive rebounds, but only parlayed those into five second chance points. Jerome led the Cavaliers with 16 first half points (5-for-10 from the field, 2-for-6 from three), while Diakite and Guy each had six points. Hunter had just two points in 11 minutes in the first half as he battled foul trouble.
The Gamecocks were able to run on the Hoos with some success in the opening stanza as they got eight fast break points. USC shot a woeful 2-for-13 (15%) in the first half and went 11-for-31 (36%) from the field. Gravett led the Gamecocks with eight points, and the Virginia big men did an outstanding job on Chris Silva as they held him to just two points (averages 11 per game).
Just like the first half, Diakite opened the scoring in the second half to push Virginia’s lead to nine. A driving layup and a three from the top of the key from USC closed the gap once more, but Jerome buried his third three of the game to give the Hoos a little more breathing room. Outstanding ball movement by Hunter found Salt for an easy dunk and, one possession later, Jerome found Diakite for an easy bucket.
Guy’s third three of the game gave Virginia their biggest lead of the game at that point at 45-33, and Hunter added to it with an old-fashioned three point play with 14:11 remaining. Frink ended a 4:30+ drought and 8-0 UVA run with a tip-in off a miss. Jerome finished through traffic off of an offensive rebound and then found a streaking Key for a breakaway dunk off of a defensive rebound, forcing Frank Martin to call a timeout trailing 52-35.
Seven straight points from USC cut Virginia’s lead to 10 with just under nine minutes to play, but Guy hit a tough fadeaway to stop the Hoos’ scoring drought. South Carolina was unable to hit the front end of a one-and-one, and Jerome hit a floater on the baseline to make it 57-43.
A free throw and dunk from Silva kept the Gamecocks within striking distance. Key drove the lane and finished at the rim, but two more free throws from South Carolina kept the deficit at 11. Guy’s fourth three put the Cavaliers up 62-48 with just under five minutes to play, and connected on his fifth 1:32 later as he converted the four-point play. Silva hit a layup, but Jerome returned the favor on the other end to keep Virginia’s advantage at 18. A free throw from Gravett would end the scoring for USC and the Hoos ran out the clock for the win.
Next up, Virginia returns home to host William & Mary on Saturday at 2pm.