#4 Virginia Defeats #24 Maryland, 76-71

By Scott Ratcliffe

The fourth-ranked Virginia men’s basketball team had five players in double figures as the Cavaliers aced their first true road test and moved to 7-0 on the season with a 76-71 ACC/Big Ten Challenge win at No. 24 Maryland Wednesday.

Junior Kyle Guy scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, as the Wahoos led by nine at halftime and opened the second half on a 9-1 run to push it to 17, 48-31, with 16:42 to play.

Maryland (6-1) chipped away at the Cavalier lead and got to within four points four times in the last five minutes, but the ‘Hoos came up with timely baskets and defensive stops to hold on for their eighth win in the last nine matchups against the former ACC rival Terrapins, who have now lost all five of their games in the Challenge since joining the Big Ten in 2014.

UVA hit eight triples in the first half — four by Guy, two by Ty Jerome, and one each from De’Andre Hunter and Braxton Key — and then senior Jack Salt got one to go with the left hand in the lane with :43 left to give his team a 39-30 edge going into the locker room in the hostile environment.

“I definitely thrive off of getting heckled,” Guy admitted afterwards. “Every stadium is going to be loud, especially if we’re ranked high and continue to play good basketball. When they start to come at me personally is when really like to turn it on.”

Virginia shot 50 percent from the field (15 for 30) and from long distance (8 for 16) over the opening 20 minutes, while limiting Maryland’s leading scorer, Anthony Cowan Jr., to just four points on 2-of-6 shooting.

Guy sank 4 of 7 from downtown in the first half and then opened the second half with his fifth 3-ball, which turned out to be his last basket of the night.

“I thought Kyle was terrific,” Tony Bennett said of Guy’s performance. “He’s got such a gift when he’s on the move without the ball and quick release. We found him, and guys moved hard, but he certainly helped us absorb some of our defensive deficiencies and I thought that was big.”

Salt added a power slam off a feed from Hunter and a nice tip-in follow as part of the 9-1 spurt out of the break.

The Terps answered with a pair of quick 3s by Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala, and got back within single digits from the foul line with 10:16 to go on Virginia’s 10th team foul.

Hunter threw one down hard after getting his defender to bite on a shot fake with 8:33 to play, and then freshman guard Kihei Clark drew a pair of Terrapins and bounced it in stride to Salt for another strong flush, giving UVA a 59-48 lead with 7:55 left. Key scored off a steal and it looked like Virginia had it under control before one last push by the home team.

Wiggins knocked down a triple from the corner, and then sophomore forward Bruno Fernando jammed one home to get the Maryland crowd of 17,950 on their feet and noisy. After a stop, Cowan drove one to the hole to cut the once-comfortable advantage down to just four, 61-57, with four minutes remaining.

Salt temporarily quieted the crowd, following a Guy miss on a baseline take with another emphatic dunk, and then Jerome buried one from beyond the arc to make it 66-59 with 2:50 to go.

“We do a really good job of not wavering from our ways, so we didn’t panic,” Guy said of holding on in crunch time. “We knew what we had to do to.”

Salt wasn’t done, capping off a career scoring night with a putback flush of a Hunter miss with two minutes left. The Big Kiwi finished with a career-best 12 points and team-high seven rebounds, including a few of his patented offensive tap-outs to keep possession.

Despite missing four free throws in the final 1:36, coupled with the Terps sinking three 3-pointers in the final minute, Virginia was able to walk out of the Xfinity Center with the victory, thanks to a Clark steal and Hunter block in the closing moments.

“We tried to make adjustments there, I think Jack challenged himself and other guys did and we tightened our pack defense,” Bennett said of second-half adjustments. “We thought that was important that guys guarded on the ball better. I thought Kihei made some defensive slides that were real big and [the Terrapins] hit some tough shots at the end, but it was enough and we took care of the ball — I want to emphasize that — because they can get out and run.

“And our ability to normally have two turnovers and not lose the ball or any live-ball turnovers I think was a big storyline.”

UVA scored 16 points off of Maryland’s 14 giveaways. As Bennett mentioned, his ‘Hoos turned the ball over just twice all night — once in each half — which matched a school record.

The Terps shot 54 percent (27 for 50) and outrebounded Virginia, 35-23. Cowan led Maryland with 15 points and 4 assists, while Fernando added 14 points (6-8 FG), 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Wiggins and Ayala each had 13 points.

Guy’s 18 points led the Cavaliers, with Jerome (17), Hunter (15), Salt (12) and Key (10) each putting up double figures. Hunter added five boards, four assists and a block.

UVA finished the contest shooting 48 percent (28 for 59) from the field and 46 percent (10 for 22) from 3-point land.


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