No. 4 men’s basketball takes down Maryland on the road, 76-71

Senior center Jack Salt scores career-high 12 points

Jack Salt

Senior center Jack Salt had a career-high 12 points against Maryland Wednesday night.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

The No. 4 Virginia men’s basketball team beat No. 24 Maryland 76-71 Wednesday night in a close contest at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. as a part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

The Cavaliers (7-0) continued their undefeated run with an impressive win on the road against the previously undefeated Terrapins (6-1). Virginia had five players in double figures, including senior center Jack Salt. Salt finished with 12 points, a career-high, along with seven rebounds.

Junior guard Kyle Guy led the Cavaliers in scoring with 18 points, 15 of which came off three-pointers. Junior guard Ty Jerome and sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter were not far behind, finishing with 17 and 15 points, respectively.

The game started out hot offensively, with both teams exchanging blows.

Hunter led the way early for the Cavaliers by getting to the rim, along with Guy’s sweet shooting stroke. Maryland sophomore forward Bruno Fernando was the key on offense for the Terrapins, coming up with a dunk and decisive alley-oop early in the contest.

Fernando led Maryland in scoring in the first half with 10 points, in addition to seven rebounds.

Maryland’s athleticism made Virginia work on defense, and Coach Tony Bennett was not pleased early on. Neither team led by more than three points for the first 12 minutes of the first half, when the Cavaliers went up 22-17.

After a poor start defensively, Virginia settled in. The Terrapins had seven first-half turnovers, and the Cavaliers had just one.

Freshman guard Kihei Clark was a big reason for this. Clark, who started his second-consecutive game, played a great defensive first half. Clark’s unselfishness on offense was also key. He had three assists in the first half.

Three-point shooting led Virginia’s offensive attack. The Cavaliers shot 8-16 from three-point range in the first half, led by Guy, who led Virginia in scoring with 15 points. He was 4-7 from three. Jerome and Hunter were the other leading scorers, with nine and seven points, respectively.

Maryland, despite out-rebounding Virginia 19-11 in the first half, struggled to shoot the ball from the perimeter. The Terrapins were just 1-6 from three-point range in the first frame.

The Cavaliers led 39-30 at the half.

Virginia started off the second half with dominance. Guy drained another three, and senior center Jack Salt added four points to put Virginia up 48-31, while the Cavaliers had a number of stingy defensive possessions.

Maryland answered with two threes in a row, but Jerome stopped their run with a difficult runner in the lane.

The Terrapins’ bigs kept them in the game, but the Cavaliers’ lead stayed at double digits, until Maryland cut it to nine, 52-43, with 10:59 left in the second half.

Clark took away some of Maryland’s momentum with two hard takes to the basket, but Virginia was still up just nine, 55-46.

Hunter added a decisive dunk over Fernando to bring the deficit back to double digits, stinging the away crowd.

Maryland kept going, however. The Terrapins cut it to four, 61-57, with 4:05 to go, and continued to stymie the Cavaliers on offense.

Jerome came up with a clutch bucket to stop their run. His three-pointer towards the end of the shot clock made it 66-59 Virginia with 2:50 to play.

Salt’s play at the end was also huge for the Cavaliers. Salt came up with two huge putback dunks to keep Virginia’s lead out of reach.

While Maryland stayed in the game with some clutch three-pointers, the Cavaliers were able to close things out and win 76-71.

It was the first time Virginia gave up more than 70 points since their loss to UMBC in the NCAA Tournament last year.

The Terrapins shot much better from three-point range in the second half, going 6-11, but couldn’t overcome their turnover woes. The Cavaliers were +12 in the turnover battle, having just two compared to Maryland’s 14.

Virginia’s next two games are at home. The Cavaliers are set to face Morgan State Monday before a matchup against in-state opponent VCU Dec. 9.

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