No. 2 Virginia inched closer to its third ACC regular season title in five years, defeating Louisville 74-64 and extending its league lead to three games with just eight contests remaining on its schedule.
Sophomore guard Kyle Guy paced the Cavaliers (21-1, 10-0 ACC) with a game-high 22 points on 10 of 21 shooting while the team as a whole shot 53.7 percent from the field and hit nine of 16 three-pointers.
The Cavaliers very much played their brand of basketball in the first half, holding Louisville (16-6, 6-3 ACC) to 26 points on just 40 percent shooting and heading into halftime with a 32-26 lead after a late triple from Guy.
The hosts dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half, stretching their lead to 14 on two separate occasions. But the Cardinals refused to go away, at one point hitting six straight shots against the outstanding UVA defense to keep themselves within striking distance. The Cardinals were the first team to shoot at least 50 percent against Virginia this year.
Louisville couldn’t finish the deal, though. Filling that role instead was Virginia’s Ty Jerome. After back-to-back threes from Deng Adel (15 points) and Ryan McMahon (nine points) cut the Cavalier lead to five with 3:47 remaining, Jerome hit two straight contested threes with time running down on the shot clock to restore the lead to 11. The Cardinals never got closer than eight afterward.
Never in doubt.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 1, 2018
Jerome has emerged as a go-to closer for the nation’s No. 2 team. On Saturday, he buried Duke with a deep three off the dribble with time running down on the shot clock to put UVA up five with about 30 seconds to go. It helped secure Virginia’s first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 23 years.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) January 27, 2018
It was yet another impressive win for the Cavaliers, who were a bit shorthanded against the Cardinals. Both Devon Hall and Mamadi Diakite struggled with flu-like symptoms leading up to the game and DeAndre Hunter wasn’t 100 percent after turning his ankle in the win over Duke. Furthermore, the program announced a three-game suspension for backup guard Nigel Johnson shortly before the game.
Little of that mattered, though, thanks to the performance of true freshman Marco Anthony coming off the bench. Anthony, who had only seen mop-up duty this year and came into the game with 13 total points on the year, scored 10 points on four-of-six shooting in 18 minutes. He knocked down two line drive threes and also had a key bucket midway through the second half. Jerome (16 points) and Devon Hall (12 points) joined Anthony and Guy in double digits, and seven of the eight players who saw the court for the Cavaliers scored. Ray Spalding led the way with 16 for Louisville.
Virginia is well on its way to the regular season ACC crown thanks to the balanced performance, and the win was its fifth win in a row over Louisville. Tony Bennett is now 50-14 in the ACC over the past three-and-a-half seasons, best in the ACC and well ahead of conference blue-bloods Duke and UNC (both 44-20) .