Meeting for the third time this season, the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers took all they could handle from the ninth-seeded Louisville Cardinals in the quarterfinals of the 2018 ACC tournament. The Hoos defeated the Cards 75-58 behind 57% shooting from the field in the second half and will play the winner of Boston College and Clemson Friday night at 7pm.
Virginia got a huge game from second year Kyle Guy with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting, which was a great sign as it was Guy’s first time seeing action since his MCL against Notre Dame in the regular season finale.
The Hoos shot 52.5% from the field and 38.9% from three for the game. Louisville shot well from three for the third time against Virginia this season, making 9-of-21 from three (which was diluted by desperation shots as the game looked out of hand). Ray Spalding led the Cardinals with 16 points and Deng Adel chipped in 13 points. Neither team turned the ball over much with the Hoos finishing with seven to Louisville’s eight.
Jerome opened scoring for the Hoos, sending home a floater in the lane after jack Salt won the opening tip. VJ King answered with a three from the top of the arc with six seconds left on the shot clock, but a good dish to Isaiah Wilkins put the Hoos back ahead.
Deng Adel put up a long three that deadened on the rim before falling through to give Louisville a 6-4 advantage. Devon Hall got in on the action with a three of his own, answered by another three by King. Salt lost Anas Mahmoud, leading to an alley-oop and a four point advantage at 11-7 with 15:42 to play in the first half.
Hall got his second basket of the game to pull back within two, but Kyle Guy mishandled a tricky pass on a fast break and were unable to pull even. After outstanding team defense on the other end, Jerome banked in a shot in the lane through contact, and made the free throw to put the Hoos ahead by one at the 12:54 mark.
Louisville briefly re-took the lead on a Spalding make, but Hall hit his second three of the game to give Virginia a two point advantage. Hall heat-checked with a long three that clanged off the rim, but Mamadi Diakite was there for the put-back dunk.
To the relief of Wahoo fans everywhere, Guy got his first bucket of the game with 10:43 remaining and a hook shot from Diakite put the Hoos up 22-15. Guy hit a long two to put the Cavaliers ahead by eight.
Out of the under-eight timeout, Guy connected from three again, but Adel answered to keep the margin at eight points. Adel’s bucket was the Cards’ first field goal in a 4:31 span. Wilkins put Virginia ahead by 10 with a finish in the lane, and outstanding ball movement on offense found Salt for an easy lay-in.
The Hoos pushed their lead to 17 thanks to jumpers from Jerome and Hunter and another three by Guy, but a three from Dwayne Sutton pulled the Cards within 14 with 1:40 left in the first half. Adel connected from three - Louisville’s sixth of the game - - to make it 38-27 with :42 to go. .
Virginia would take that margin into the half, led by Guy with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting (3-for-3 from three). The Hoos shot 48.5% from the field and 50% from three (5-for-10) and held Louisville to 35.7% from the field. The Cards struggled offensively, but connected on six of their 12 three point attempts, allowing them to stay within striking distance.
On the offensive glass, Virginia was very effective with 12 second chance points on six offensive rebounds. The Hoos held an advantage in the first 20 minutes in bench points (6-5), points in the paint (16-8), and second chance points (12-5).
Louisville’s Adel had nine first half points, followed by King with six and Sutton with five.
Wilkins opened the second half for the Hoos on an old-fashioned three point play, but a foul called on Jerome sent Spalding to the line for two shots to close within 12. Another basket by Spalding made it 41-31 with 17:50 to play, but a nice take by Hall through the lane gave Virginia a bit of a cushion.
Quentin Snider made his first shot of the game - a three - to pull the Cardinals within seven, and Jerome responded with a floater in the lane. Louisville started to press with 15:28 left in the second half, attempting to force the Hoos into more turnovers.
Mahmoud blocked an attempt by Guy in the lane and buried a dunk on the other end to cut the deficit back to seven points, but Hunter made a big boy move in the lane to finish through contact. Hunter connected on the free throw, but a three from King made it seven yet again.
With the shot clock passing through three seconds, Guy took a pass from Hunter, heaving up a long three that rattled around before falling through, giving the Hoos a 51-41 advantage with 13:36 left. A miss by Spalding led to a run out by the Cavaliers, leading to a corner three by Hunter to make it 13 points once again.
Two free throws and a three pointer made off of a turnover brought Louisville back within eight points, and the Cards closed within six at 54-48 with 10:07 to play.
Diakite stopped the 7-0 Cardinal run with a post move, but Jamie Luckie whistled Diakite for a phantom foul on the other end, allowing Louisville to make it 56-50. A turnover in the lane gave Jordan Nwora a run out dunk to close Virginia’s lead to four. Diakite had a shot fall short, but he got his own rebound and the put-back to make it 58-52 with just over eight minutes left.
Jerome drove the lane, cutting his way to the basket and drawing two defenders. Instead of forcing the shot up among the trees, he dished it to the waiting Diakite, who finished with the slam. A pull-up jumper from Jerome at the free throw line with 6:21 to play put the margin back to double digits at 10, and Hall took it in the lane to make it 64-52 at 5:37 remaining.
Adel hit two free throws to pull back within 10, but Hall answered, finishing through clear contact to put the Hoos ahead 66-54. A turnover by Diakite near mid-court looked to be a disaster, but he recovered quickly to block the shot and limit damage. Guy hit a fadeaway jumper in the lane through contact, converting the free throw to make it 69-54 with 2:35 to play.
Two more free throws from Spalding made it a 13 point game, but Hunter equaled those at 1:05 left, giving Virginia a 71-56 lead. A statement dunks by Hunter and Guy with :38 and :23 left put the cherry on top of the victory, and the Hoos were able to run out the clock.
Virginia will play the winner of Boston College and Clemson tomorrow night at 7pm in the tournament semifinals.