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No. 14 Virginia withstands late push from Pitt to win 73-66

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Hauser and Huff go 6-for-8 from three in the win.

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers stayed on top of the ACC with a 73-66 win over the visiting Pitt Panthers on Saturday afternoon. Virginia was originally supposed to play Louisville, but flexed to the Panthers after the Cards had to go on a program pause due to COVID. With the win, Virginia improved to 13-3 overall and 9-1 in ACC play with the win.

Sam Hauser led the Hoos with 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting to go with six rebounds. Tomas Woldetensae was huge off the bench for Virginia with 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting from three. Jay Huff added 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting and chipped in eight rebounds before fouling out with two seconds remaining. Clark also hit double-digits in the win, adding 11 points and eight assists.

Virginia shot 53% from the field and 50% from three, with the Cavalier big men (Huff and Hauser) combining to go 6-for-8 from downtown.

The Hoos turned it over nine times in the second half for 12 total turnovers. Pitt turned those turnovers into 17 points and got 12 second chance points off of 14 offensive rebounds.

Justin Champagnie scored 18 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead Pitt as the Panthers shot 43% from the field. Pitt was opportunistic, making the most of Virginia’s mistakes in the second half and battling on the offensive boards. The Panthers struggled from three, making just 4-of-14 (29%) from outside.

Pitt started the game a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, taking a 7-0 lead. Hauser’s first three of the game got Virginia on the board with 16:11 to play. After two offensive rebounds led to a tip-in for Pitt, Clark cut the deficit to 9-6 with a three of his own. The two teams traded buckets until five straight points from Huff tied the game at 13-13 with 9:50 to play in the half.

Virginia took it’s first lead of the game with 8:48 to play on a three from Reece Beekman, then Hauser pushed Virginia’s lead to three with a bucket of his own. Pitt rattled off a 6-0 run over the next 2:22 of game time to take a 21-18 lead, and the Panthers pushed their advantage to four after answering two Virginia buckets with a three and layup of their own.

Two straight threes from Woldetensae and a dunk from Murphy gave the Hoos a four-point lead of their own, and one FT from Pitt’s Odukale would send the teams into the break with Virginia leading 30-27.

Virginia shot 44% from the field and 46% from three in the first half, led by Hauser with nine points. Murphy and Huff each had three rebounds, and Clark dished four assists with no turnovers. As a team, the Hoos turned it over just three times in the first half.

Pitt was able to convert 46% from the field in the first half, but went just 2-for-9 (22%) from beyond the arc.

Champagnie opened the second half scoring, but Clark responded with a layup of his own to keep the Virginia advantage at three. The Cavaliers held onto a slight advantage until Au’diese Toney connected on a slam dunk, tying things up at 36-36 with 16:21 to play.

Then Virginia caught fire offensively, rattling off a 16-0 run that featured two threes from each Huff and Hauser. Seven straight from Pitt cut into the lead slightly, but two threes from Woldetensae made it 57-43 in favor of the Hoos with 9:29 remaining.

Pitt scored six straight — two of which came after a confusing “admin” technical call gave the Panthers two free throws — but Clark ended the scoring run with a tough layup. A put-back from Champagnie kept Pitt within reach at 64-53, but back-to-back offensive fouls on Clark kept Virginia from building on its lead further.

Two straight buckets by Pitt cut Virginia’s lead to seven with under three minutes to play, but Beekman connected on one of two free throws to make it 65-57. Neither team would make any impact on the score for the next :50, but another Pitt FT made it a seven point game. Clark and Toney traded baskets to keep the gap at seven before Murphy made it a nine-point game at the line with 27 seconds remaining.

Next up, Virginia travels to Georgia Tech on Wednesday for a huge game against the Jackets. Game time is set for 7pm, and the game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.