No. 1 men’s basketball beats North Carolina to win ACC Tournament Championship

Cavaliers win third conference tournament title in program history

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Kyle Guy was named the 2018 ACC Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He was Virginia’s leading scorer in each of the team's games this tournament.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

The No. 1 Virginia men's basketball team downed No. 12 North Carolina 71-63 to win the 2018 ACC Tournament Championship Saturday night. The Cavaliers (31-2), who were this year’s regular season champions, won the title for the first time since 2014.

“It’s a special, special moment for us,” senior guard Devon Hall said. “It speaks to this group and how tough we are.”

Earlier in the season when the Cavaliers played North Carolina (25-10), who has knocked Virginia out of the ACC Tournament twice in the last three years, the Cavaliers had total control with a 61-49 win. Even though the game was in Brooklyn this time and not in Virginia’s home court, the Cavaliers still controlled the game, leading for 36:45 of the 40 minutes of the game.  

In the first half, Virginia maintained a lead for a majority of the twenty minutes. The Cavaliers were 6-10 from beyond the arc and were a perfect 8-8 on free-throws after struggling in the semifinal with 37.5 percent free-throw shooting. Sophomore guard Ty Jerome led Virginia in scoring with nine points, while Hall and graduate transfer guard Nigel Johnson each had eight points. Defensively, the Cavaliers forced the Tar Heels to turn the ball over six times. However, Virginia struggled to keep North Carolina forward Luke Maye off the scoreboard, as he picked up 15 points in the first half and converted on all three of his three-point attempts. As a team, North Carolina shot 50 percent from three and 43.5 percent overall. Although the Cavaliers had a lead as large as 10 in the first half, they headed into the locker room with a slight 34-30 advantage.

Virginia held onto its lead for the entire second half and finished the night shooting 52.9 percent from three. Four different players for the Cavaliers hit double figures in scoring, with sophomore guard Kyle Guy leading the way with 16 points. Guy has been Virginia’s leading scorer in each of Virginia’s games this tournament. Hall had 15 points, while Jerome finished with 12 points and redshirt freshman guard De’Andre Hunter had 10 points off the bench. The Cavaliers were 90.9 from the free-throw line overall, and only turned the ball over four times in the entire game. Meanwhile, the signature pack-line defense forced nine turnovers in the game and slowed down Maye’s offense in the second half, keeping him to five points in the final twenty minutes of play.

“We stand and get back and build a wall, and that was key for us,” Hall said. “We pretty much thrive on defensive stops that gives us energy and momentum”

The 71-63 win marked the third time in program history that Virginia won the ACC Tournament, and the second time that coach Tony Bennett brought has brought home the trophy to Virginia. 

“To win a regular season ACC, that’s the long haul,” Bennett said. “To win this, that’s tough.”

The Cavaliers will now head into Selection Sunday without much to worry about, as they are favored to be the overall No. 1 seed.

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