The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers made another statement to the college basketball world on Tuesday night as the Hoos utterly dominated No. 9 Virginia Tech, 81-59. Virginia moved to 16-0 (4-0 ACC) to stay one of two unbeaten teams in the country (17-0 Michigan is the other).
De’Andre Hunter played one of his best games as he poured in 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting with five rebounds and two assists. Ty Jerome put up a double-double with 14 points and 12 assists (a new Arena record for assists in a game).
Virginia shot a blistering 58% from the field and 54% from three for the game as they held Tech to 43% and 33%, respectively. The Hoos assisted 18 of their 31 made field goals, and turned the ball over just nine times.
Kihei Clark was outstanding with nine points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with his trademark pesky defense. On what could be classified a “quiet night” for Kyle Guy, the third year shooter finished with 15 points, and Jay Huff added seven on a perfect 3-for-3 night from the field.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the Hokies with 19 points, followed by Ahmed Hill with 14.
Diakite got Virginia on the board first with a finish late in the shot clock after Jerome found him with a perfect pass. Jerome called his own number on the next possession with a three from the right wing to put the Hoos up 5-0 right out the gate. Jack Salt was called for a foul on Alexander-Walker shooting a three, sending him to the line where he made two of three.
After Blackshear slipped the defense for an easy layup to make it 5-4, Hunter connected with a three from the corner. Ahmed Hill missed a three on the other end, setting up the Virginia offense once again. Jerome hit his second three of the half from the other corner to put the Hoos up 11-4 with 15:31 to play. Robinson carved two points back off the lead with two free throws, but Hunter was called for an offensive foul and Alexander-Walker hit Tech’s first three of the game to make it 11-9.
Jerome found Diakite yet again late in the shot clock for another wide open shot, this time a dunk. Outstanding one-on-one defense by Hunter on Alexander-Walker resulted in a shot off the front iron, and Jerome made them pay with a three to give Virginia a seven point lead.
Blackshear rebounded his own miss to keep the Hokies within five, but they couldn’t get closer on their next possession as Jay Huff stuffed Isaiah Wilkins (no, not that one) and drew a foul after corralling the ball. On the next possession, good ball movement from Guy to Jerome to Huff around the arc led to a three from the big man.
P.J. Horne made one of two at the line after drawing a foul from Key, then Hunter pulled up for an elbow jumper to give the Hoos a 21-12 lead. Hill drove the lane and finished at the rim, but Hunter showed aggressiveness as he took it himself through the lane for an emphatic dunk. Guy got on the board with his first points of the game with a three pointer from the corner with 8:28 left to play.
Jerome canned his fourth three of the first half, but Robinson answered with a three of his own to cut the lead back to 12. More outstanding passing on the perimeter found Kihei Clark for a three pointer and the 32-17 lead.
After Guy hit a floater in the lane, Clark played such good defense on Robinson bringing the ball up that he burned 15 seconds off the clock, almost turned him over twice, and forced Buzz Williams to burn a timeout. The defense stood coming out of the timeout, but Clark narrowly missed on a three from the corner.
Hunter made it 39-20 with two minutes to play after he took advantage of a mis-match on Robinson, but Robinson answered with a driving layup of his own to cut the lead back to 17. On Virginia’s next possession, Hunter collected his own miss and finished strong for the arcing two-pointer. He stayed at the center of the action on the defensive end, drawing an offensive foul on Blackshear, his second of the half.
Virginia doubled up the Hokies 44-22 at the half as Jerome drove the lane and kicked to Clark in the corner for a three at the buzzer.
It was a fitting end to a half that saw Virginia shoot 71% from beyond the arc and 68% from the field. Jerome led the way with 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting (all from three) and dished seven assists in 17 minutes of action.
Guy added 10 first half points on 4-for-6 shooting (2-for-3 from three), and Hunter had nine points and five rebounds. The Hoos turned it over just four times, but the Hokies turned it into five points.
Defensively, Virginia made things miserable for VT as the Hokies shot just 35% from the field, 22% from three, and struggled to find open looks. Tech went 6-for-9 from the line in the first half, and Virginia didn’t attempt a single free throw.
Alexander-Walker opened the second half with a three for the Hokies, but Hunter drove through and around three VT players for a layup. Hill’s floater connected to cut Virginia’s lead to 19.
Hunter took—and made—Virginia’s first two free throws of the game at the 18:22 mark to make it 48-27. An alley-oop in transition from Robinson from Hill made it 19 again, and, despite three chances, Virginia was unable to extend the lead.
Hill made two free throws to cut it to 48-31 with 16:08 remaining, and a sloppy pass led to a turnover and a three from the Hokies. A huge effort from Guy halted the mini-scoring streak from Virginia Tech, and Robinson missed a three to give the ball back to the Hoos. Hunter’s shot didn’t fall, but Salt was there for the tip-in to make it 52-34.
Alexander-Walker connected again on a short jumper, and Guy buried a three before Hill answered with one of his own. Hunter got back to the line, drawing Blackshear’s fourth foul and making both free throws to put the Hoos up 57-39 with 12:47 to play.
Robinson failed to convert a layup all alone under the basket, giving Virginia the ball back and resulting in Guy finding Key for an easy dunk. Clark fouled Robinson on the other end, and the senior point guard made both. Salt put in a miss from Clark, but an offensive rebound by the Hokies on the other end kept the play alive and the Hokies within 18.
Clark frustrated Robinson to the point that the latter swung the ball at him after a timeout was called, leading to a technical foul. Guy made both to put the Hoos up 25, but a three from Horne cut it back to 22. Stout defense from Salt forced a bad shot and led to a Key layup to make it 70-46 with 8:39 remaining in the game.
Virginia Tech made another mini scoring run with five straight points from Ty Outlaw to cut Virginia’s lead to 70-51 with 6:30 remaining. Jerome dished his 10th assist of the game as he found Clark for another three.
Alexander-Walker hit two free throws, but Virginia responded with two straight buckets from Hunter to put the Hoos up 77-53 with just over four minutes to play. Back-to-back enormous dunks from Huff put the exclamation point on the win as Coach Bennett put in the subs to close the last 1:25.
Next up, the Hoos travel to No. 1 Duke to take on the Blue Devils. The game tips at 6pm on Saturday and will be televised by ESPN.