No. 3 men’s basketball comes back to beat No. 18 Louisville, 64-52

Hunter scores career-high 26 points

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Sophomore guard De'Andre Hunter scored a career-high 26 points on 9-for-11 shooting.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

The No. 3 Virginia men’s basketball team showed its mettle on the road once again Saturday afternoon, beating No. 18 Louisville 64-52 after a second-half comeback. It was a rough week for the Cardinals, who also lost to Syracuse 69-49 Wednesday night.

The win made Virginia the first team in ACC history to beat five ranked opponents on the road.

Sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter led the way for the Cavaliers (24-2, 12-2 ACC), scoring a career-high 26 points on an efficient 9-for-11 from the field. Of his 26 points, 19 came in the second half, and he played a crucial role in Virginia’s comeback.

The Cardinals (18-10, 9-6 ACC) were led in scoring by sophomore forward Jordan Nwora, who finished with 17 points, despite just five of those coming in the second half.

Sophomore center Jay Huff and junior forward Mamadi Diakite stepped up for the Cavaliers after a quiet game from junior guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. Huff had 12 points and 7 rebounds, and Diakite had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. Jerome and Guy combined for just 12 points on 0-for-11 shooting from three-point range.

The first half, however, was dominated by Louisville’s three-point shooting success.

Louisville got out to a scorching start from behind the arc, starting the game shooting 7-for-10 from three-point range. At the other end, Virginia struggled to do anything offensively at the beginning of the half.

Hunter was the only player keeping the Cavaliers in the game. As the Cardinals jumped out to an early 8-2 lead behind two three-pointers from junior forward Dwayne Sutton, Hunter responded with a jumper.

As Louisville appeared to be opening up another lead on a three from Nwora, Hunter again provided the answer with a gritty layup and free throw to make it a 16-13 Cardinals’ lead with 9:57 to play in the half.

Louisville, however, responded with three three-pointers on consecutive possessions to go up 25-13, and the Cavaliers were forced to take a timeout with 8:42 to go in the half.

Huff provided a big boost off the bench, sparking Virginia on an 8-0 run to make it 25-21 Louisville, which forced the Cardinals to call a timeout with 4:22 remaining.

Louisville regained some momentum out of the timeout with two threes from junior guard Ryan McMahon to make it 31-23 Cardinals with 2:35 to go. McMahon shot the ball lights out in the first half, 4-for-4 from three-point range. Louisville went into the half up 37-27.

Diakite and Huff, the team’s fourth and sixth leading scorers, respectively, were the only players stepping up for the Cavaliers in the first half. Diakite had eight points, and Huff led all Cavaliers in the first half with 10 points.

Virginia shot poorly from three-point range in the first half, going 0-for-11 from beyond the arc. Jerome and Guy, both averaging over 13 points per game, were held to just two points combined.

Louisville, on the other hand, shot 62.5 percent from three-point range in the first half, with 32 of the Cardinals’ 37 points coming from Nwora, McMahon and Sutton.

Virginia slowly clawed back into the game, and a corner three by Hunter cut the Cardinals’ lead to five points, 41-36, with 16:02 remaining in the game.

Hunter made a layup and a free throw to bring Virginia within two points, and freshman guard Kihei Clark made a beautiful pass to Huff to tie things up at 41 with 14:18 to go.

Nwora ended the Cavaliers’ 8-0 run with a difficult step-back three to prevent Virginia from gaining the lead.

Guy had an opportunity to give the Cavaliers the lead on a three-pointer off a curl, but his shot came up short.

A few possessions later, however, Guy gave Virginia its first lead of the game, 49-47, with 8:46 remaining in the game.

Hunter single-handedly helped the Cavaliers open up a bigger lead — getting it done in the paint, at the free throw line and from beyond the arc. He sank a three-pointer to make it 58-50 Virginia with 5:08 to play.

After that, the Cavaliers cruised to victory, completing yet another impressive comeback on the road.

Virginia’s second half defense was outstanding, holding the Cardinals to just 15 points after they scored 37 points in the first half. That, combined with stellar play from Hunter, propelled the Cavaliers to their fourth consecutive victory.

Up next for Virginia is a return to John Paul Jones arena Wednesday night against Georgia Tech. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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