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Virginia holds on in gritty battle with Oregon to move on to the Elite 8

Things got dicey, but the Hoos got big shots when it mattered.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Oregon vs Virginia Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers are headed back to the Elite 8 after a 53-49 rock fight with 12-seed Oregon on Thursday night. With the win, Virginia improved to 32-3 on the season, setting a new program record for wins in a season. Four UVA players hit double-digits in scoring, led by Ty Jerome with 13 points and six assists.

First year Kihei Clark matched a career high in points (12) and assists (six) in the game, hitting clutch shots and icing the game at the free throw line.

De’Andre Hunter (11 points) and Kyle Guy (10 points) also hit double-digit scoring. Mamadi Diakite, who got the start, picked up 11 rebounds to go with seven points.

Virginia struggled from the field, going just 36% from the field and 27% from three, but the Hoos only turned the ball over eight times.

Oregon shot 38% from the field and 36% from three, led by Louis King with 16 points. Payton Pritchard added 11 points, and Paul White had 10.

Virginia won the opening tip, but Diakite couldn’t get a two to fall with a second left on the shot clock. King picked up where he left off, canning a three from the corner to give the Ducks a 3-0 lead. Guy put Virginia on the board with a drive and step-back two, and Pritchard came up empty on another three attempt for Oregon. Hunter gave the Hoos their first lead of the game with a baseline jumper, making it 4-3 with 17:31 to play.

Jerome pushed the lead to 7-3 on Virginia’s first three of the game, and Pritchard tried to answer with a three that clanged off the rim. Virginia’s defense was locked in early, but the offense came up empty with four straight misses. Pritchard ended a five-plus minute scoring drought for the Ducks, then Amin got a transition bucket to fall to tie the game back up at seven points apiece.

An airball three from Jerome kept an 0-for-8, five-plus minute scoring drought going for Virginia. Diakite nabbed an offensive rebound to keep the play alive, but a turnover from Hunter ended the offensive threat for Virginia. Pritchard missed a long two off the front iron, and Hunter finally got a shot to fall to put the Hoos up 10-7 with 10:56 remaining.

Amin tied the game up at 10 with 8:51 to play after another miss from Guy from deep. He hit another to give the Ducks the lead back 13-10, and Hunter couldn’t match it on the other end. Pritchard extended the lead to six with Oregon’s fourth three of the first half. Hunter missed another open three, but Pritchard couldn’t get one to fall in traffic.

Clark connected on a three, Wooten flushed home an alley-oop, and Guy got his own miss for a putback to make it 18-15 Oregon with 5:18 to play. A smart pass from Jerome found Diakite down low for a layup and the foul, and his free throw tied the game up once more. White badly missed a three for the Ducks, and Jerome buried a three from the corner to put Virginia up 21-18 with 3:31 left in the half.

Diakite played outstanding one-on-one defense in the post against Wooten, forcing a tough shot and rebound by the Hoos. Hunter’s floater careened off the iron, but Clark pulled in the offensive rebound and found Diakite with a gorgeous no-look bounce pass for a big dunk and a five-point lead.

White hit a tough shot over Hunter to make it 23-20, but Clark pushed the lead to six with his second three of the half. King drove the lane for a floater, and Jerome answered with a pull-up jumper from the left of the lane to answer. Oregon’s Pritchard turned the ball over on the Ducks’ next possession, giving Virginia a chance to extend its lead with just under a minute remaining in the first half. A tough layup from Diakite with two seconds to play gave Virginia a 30-22 lead at the break, despite subpar shooting.

The Hoos went just 12-for-33 (36%) from the field and 5-for-18 (28%) from three, including Guy going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Virginia ended the half on a 20-6 run spanning the final 6:03, and the Hoos led the Ducks in second chance points (6-0) and points off of turnovers (3-0). Despite dealing with the Oregon press for most of the half, Virginia had just three turnovers.

Jerome led Virginia with eight points and three assists, followed by Diakite with seven points. Clark had an outstanding first half with six points and four assists to go with just one turnover.

Oregon shot 43% from the field, but connected on 4-of-10 three point attempts. Amin led the Ducks with eight points, followed by Pritchard and King with five apiece. The Ducks had no offensive rebounds in the first half and turned the ball over six times.

After both teams came up empty on their first possessions, white hit a three for Oregon to cut Virginia’s lead to five. A turnover by Jerome gave Oregon to climb closer, and Okoro pulled the Ducks within three at 30-27 with a 5-0 run to start the half.

To everyone’s relief, Guy ended his two-plus game, 0-for-17 stretch from three with a shot beyond the arc to make it 33-27. Hunter added to it to give Virginia a mini 5-0 run themselves, returning the lead to eight with 16:46 to play.

A bucket from White and two free throws from Pritchard quickly made it a four point game at 35-31 with 15:20 remaining. Guy missed a three as Oregon notched up the pressure, and White buried a three to pull Oregon back within one.

Another Virginia turnover gave Oregon a chance to take the lead, but the Ducks couldn’t hit the three. A weird tie up led to double technicals after Amin flopped, but Virginia got possession with the arrow. Clark couldn’t connect on a three, Amin missed one on the other end, and Guy finally got another three to go as the Hoos pushed their lead to 38-34.

A floater in the lane from Clark made it a six-point Virginia advantage with 11:52 to play, but Pritchard answered with a two of his own in the lane. King cashed in a Clark turnover with a three ball, cutting Virginia’s lead to 40-39. Guy missed a three off the front iron, but a Diakite block ended the threat from Oregon.

Virginia’s fourth turnover of the second half gave the ball back to the Ducks down one, but a three at the shot clock from King put Oregon up by two at 42-40 with 8:32 remaining. The Hoos couldn’t retake the lead on a three from Guy, but he drew an offensive foul on the other end to get the ball back.

Jerome tied the game at 42 with a pull-up jumper from the free throw line, and Pritchard missed on a three to give Virginia the ball back. Hunter got a look at a three from the corner, but it missed off the stanchion. Another huge three from King — his fourth of the game — put the Ducks up three, but Clark answered with a huge three of his own to tie things up at 45 with 5:21 to play.

The defense forced a turnover, and Virginia called a timeout with 4:42 remaining. Hunter’s three from the top of the key was tipped, giving the ball back to Oregon with another chance to retake the lead. The Ducks turned it over, and Jerome put the Hoos up 48-45 with 3:34 remaining with a huge three.

King had a runner off the glass go halfway down before rimming out, but Hunter’s jumper missed giving Oregon another look at it. The Ducks got a good look from King from three, but it wouldn’t go. Both teams traded misses as the clock ticked down to 41 seconds. Amin was called for back-to-back fouls, giving him five and sending him to the bench.

Hunter got a layup with 27 seconds left after great ball movement broke the press, but he was called for his fourth foul with 17.7 seconds left to send Pritchard to the line for two. He made both, making it a 50-47 Virginia lead.

Oregon started fouling, sending Hunter to the line with 13.6 seconds left. He made both to put Virginia up five, and the tense fans in the arena could begin to relax slightly. Diakite was called for a foul under the basket, sending King to the line where he made both with 1.1 seconds left.

Virginia got the ball into Clark with .5 seconds left, Oregon fouled him, and he made one of two at the line to seal the 53-49 victory.

Next up, the Hoos will face Purdue in the 8:49pm game on Saturday.