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Virginia uses strong second half to take down Wake Forest, 70-61

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Hoos improve to 2-0, overcoming Wake’s hot start.

Towson v Virginia Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The No. 22 Virginia men’s basketball team had to withstand a first-half shooting barrage from the visiting Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but the Cavaliers pulled away in a strong second half to win 70-61. Virginia improved to 6-2 (2-0 ACC) with the win, and Wake Forest fell to 3-2 (0-2).

Five different players scored in double-digits for the Cavaliers, led by Sam Hauser with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Hauser was joined by Trey Murphy (13 points), Reece Beekman (12 points), Jay Huff (11 points), and Kihei Clark (10 points) in the starting lineup as all five starters showed out offensively.

The Hoos trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, but heated up in the second half as they built as big as a 13-point advantage. Virginia shot 54% from the field and 30% from three for the game and had just six turnovers. Hauser, Beekman, and Clark each had three assists in the game, and Beekman nabbed five steals.

Wake Forest was blisteringly hot to start the game, but cooled down in the second half as Virginia kicked the defense up a notch. Jonah Antonio and Isaiah Mucius tied with 14 points apiece, with the former going 4-for-7 from three. For the game, Wake shot 51% from the field and 53% from three.

Virginia was without Casey Morsell and Austin Katstra — along with multiple assistant coaches — as the Cavaliers dealt with contact tracing issues from a staff member’s positive coronavirus test.

Wake Forest came out of the gate with energy, taking an early 5-0 lead before an 11-3 run gave them a 16-8 advantage with 12:53 to play in the first. The Deacs hit five of their first six threes, despite coming into the game averaging just 32% from beyond the arc. Massoud was a perfect 3-for-3 over the first 10:26 of the game, hitting one fewer three than he had in the first four games combined.

The Demon Deacons would build as much as a 12-point lead in the first half, but Virginia cut the lead to 30-29 with 3:32 to play. Wake Forest held onto its lead, taking a 39-34 advantage into the break thanks to its 6-for-10 mark behind the arc. Wake shot 63% from the field for the first 20 minutes, led by Mucius’s 10 points.

Virginia didn’t shoot poorly in the first half as the Cavaliers connected on 52% of their attempts and 5-of-12 (42%) beyond the arc. Beekman and Murphy each had eight points in the first half, and the Hoos took care of the ball with just two turnovers.

The Hoos started the second half on a 7-2 run, with Murphy tying the game at 41-all from the free throw line with 16:45 left on the clock. Virginia took its first lead of the game on its next possession as Clark connected on a silky step back.

Back-to-back buckets from Huff and Murphy put Virginia up by five, but Daivien Williamson got a layup to go to keep Wake within a possession. The teams traded buckets before a 6-0 Virginia run gave the Cavaliers a 58-49 lead with 10:34 to play. Two free throws from Huff pushed Virginia’s lead to 13 — its biggest of the game — before another Wake three cut it back to 68-58.

Virginia was able to keep the Deacs at bay despite a late three from Antonio and some turnovers. Next up, the Cavaliers head to Boston College for another conference road tilt. The game is scheduled for 2pm and will air on the ACC Network.