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Jack Salt, Kyle Guy lead top-seeded Virginia past NC State, 76-56

The big man sets a new career high as the Hoos use strong second half to move to the ACC tournament semifinals.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Virginia vs North Carolina State Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1-seeded Virginia Cavaliers trailed No. 8-seeded NC State by two at the half, but it didn’t take long for the Hoos to put the pedal to the metal and leave the Wolfpack in the dust. Virginia outscored NC State 49-27 in the second half en route to a 76-56 victory.

Kyle Guy was outstanding with 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting (7-for-9 from three), and Jack Salt hit a new career high with 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field and a blistering 4-for-5 from the free throw line.

Next up, Virginia will face the winner of No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Virginia Tech.

Virginia shot 52% from the field and 48% from three for the game, and the Hoos had just three second half turnovers.

NC State shot 39% from the field, but struggled from three, going 3-for-20 (15%). Markelle Johnson led the Wolfpack with 13 points, followed by DJ Funderburk with 12.

Wyatt Walker opened up scoring with a layup under the basket after the Wolfpack broke a post trap. The Hoos came up empty their first three trips down the court until Hunter connected on a pull-up jumper to knot the score at two. After a strong defensive stand, Hunter gave Virginia the 3-2 lead with 16:28 to play thanks to a trip to the free throw line.

Guy canned his first three attempt of the game to put the Hoos up by four, and the defense stood strong yet again to give UVA a chance to build on its lead. A slick pass from Guy to Salt led to an easy dunk for the big man to make it 8-2 DJ Funderburk got a jumper to rattle around a fall to get back within four, but Guy hit home his second three of the half from the top of the key.

Funderburk got the inside lane under the basket for another layup, but Guy took advantage of a parting in the State defense to cut to the hoop for an easy lay-in. A steal led to a fast break bucket for Guy, who was fouled on the attempt. He made the free throw, giving Virginia the 16-6 lead with 13:29 to play.

Back-to-back buckets from Devon Daniels and CJ Bryce brought State back within six, but a dish from Clark found Diakite for a high percentage shot and the eight-point lead. Diakite committed his second foul of the half with 11:52 left to play, sending Funderburk to the line where he made both.

A shot clock violation gave State the ball back, and Funderburk continued his hot streak with a layup and one to make it 18-15 with just under 11 minutes to play in the half. Another empty trip for the Hoos led to a drive and layup from Torin Dorn to pull the Pack within one. A live-ball turnover gave Markelle Johnson an easy dunk and gave NC State the lead.

Dorn continued an 11-0 run for the Pack as Virginia went scoreless for over three minutes and turned the ball over four times. Funderburk made one more at the line to put NC State up by four at 22-18. Jerome’s three attempt rattled out, and he was called for a foul on the other end to send Beverly to the line. He made both, pushing State’s lead to six and its run to 18-2.

Guy stopped the bleeding with another three — his third of the half — to cut the deficit in half. Salt drew a foul on Walker, making the first to pull Virginia within two at 24-22 with 7:25 left in the half. Jerome picked up a steal, but Hunter couldn’t get the shot to fall to tie the game. Beverly and Jerome traded missed threes, and Dorn clanged one off the front iron for the Wolfpack.

Jerome lost track of the shot clock, getting a layup to go after the buzzer sounded. Another Beverly shot missed, and the Hoos turned the ball for the sixth time on a wayward pass from Jerome. Both teams went cold, with scoring droughts of over 3 minutes for each squad.

Dorn broke the drought with a tough shot over Hunter, but Hunter couldn’t return the favor on the other end. Clark made a strong move in the lane and got the floater to go, but an athletic play from Johnson kept the State lead at four with 1:38 to play in the half. Johnson went to the line and made one.

Huff got a much-needed three to fall to close within two again with 48 seconds left in the half. Virginia’s defense stood tall, but couldn’t get the shot to go at the buzzer, sending the Hoos into the locker room trailing 29-27.

Guy carried Virginia with 14 points, with no other player having more than three in the first half. Hunter and Jerome combined to go 1-for-9 for three points as the Hoos shot 42% from the field and 46% from three. Virginia turned the ball over six times, including two shot clock violations.

NC State went 0-for-7 from three in the first half, but still shot 39% from the field. Funderburk led the Pack with 10 first half points, with Dorn adding six.

The Wolfpack got the first points of the second half thanks to a layup from Beverly as Virginia’s cold shooting continued. Salt was the unlikely spark on the offensive end, corralling a rebound and driving the lane for an acrobatic layup. He made the ensuing free throw, pulling Virginia back within one.

Johnson answered with State’s first three of the game to make it 34-30, and Hunter drove the lane to get to the free throw line. Hunter made both, bringing Virginia back within two. Another strong Salt take on the baseline tied the game at 34, and he gave the Hoos their first lead since the 10:16 mark of the first half with a free throw. Funderburk gave the one-point advantage right back to the Pack, but a put-back from Salt on a Hunter miss put the Hoos up once again.

After forcing a turnover, Guy canned his fourth three of the game and got the foul called to boot. Guy completed the four-point play, giving Virginia a 41-36 lead with 14:24 to play. NC State had back-to-back trips to the line, but only got one point from the charity stripe to pull within four.

Two more free throws from Hunter gave Virginia a 43-37 advantage with just under 13 minutes left in the second half. After a miss from three from Johnson, Hunter finally got a three ball to fall to put the Hoos up by nine.

Guy and Johnson traded threes, and Guy hit a long two to extend Virginia’s lead to 11 with 10:49 remaining. Key was whistled for a foul despite solid positioning down low, and Dorn made one of two at the line. Another foul on Beverly sent Hunter to the line, where he also made 1-of-2 to give Virginia an 11-point lead once more.

Jerome’s first bucket of the game came with 9:51 to play and put the Hoos up 54-41. A lane violation negated a free throw for the Wolfpack, and Clark made the extra pass to a wide open Guy for a three and the 16-point lead. Two free throws from CJ Bryce made it 57-43, but Salt slammed home an emphatic dunk for a new career high of 13 points. Jamie Luckie called a Class B technical foul on Salt for pulling up on the rim, but Bryce missed the awarded free throw with 7:35 remaining.

Daniels made one at the line, and Salt kept his hot day going with another old-fashioned three-point play. Beverly responded with one of his own, and another three for Guy put Virginia up comfortably at 65-47 with 5:42 to play. One free throw from Key and a three from Hunter made it a 21-point lead for the Hoos. Jericole Hellems got a layup to go for State, but Salt responded with another tip in to make it 71-49.

First year Kody Stattmann added a statement dunk for the Hoos as the reserves got minutes down the stretch.

Virginia will play the winner of FSU/VT at 7pm. The game will be aired on ESPN or ESPN2/Raycom.