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No. 1 men’s basketball downs Miami 59-50

Hunter leads top-ranked Cavaliers in bounce-back win

<p>Virginia redshirt freshman guard De'Andre Hunter had a game-high 22 points Tuesday night against Miami.</p>

Virginia redshirt freshman guard De'Andre Hunter had a game-high 22 points Tuesday night against Miami.

In its first game ranked No.1 in the country, according to the AP poll, Virginia notched a 59-50 win over Miami.

"There were stretches of really nice basketball," Coach Tony Bennett said. "Then there were a couple stretches that drive coaches crazy — like, why all of the sudden are we losing our way? But for the most part [our players] responded."

The win for the Cavaliers (24-2, 13-1 ACC) came after they suffered their first conference loss of the season against in-state rival, Virginia Tech, on Saturday. That loss snapped Virginia’s 15-game winning-streak, and was the first loss the Cavaliers suffered at home this season.

However, on Tuesday night, Virginia bounced back from the loss with a convincing road win over the Hurricanes (18-7, 7-6).

Virginia’s defense proved to be an obstacle for Miami, which was especially highlighted by Miami’s season-low 16 first-half points, and its 7:21 scoreless stretch in the first half. The Hurricanes were a mere two of twelve from behind the arc at half-time, and became the twelfth Virginia opponent to be held to 50 or fewer points this season.

“We did a good job of making them earn," Bennett said. "They didn't get many clean looks."

Though Miami got some offense generated in the second half, sophomore forward Dewan Huell — who is the leading scorer for the Hurricanes this season — was held scoreless by the Cavaliers. Miami freshman guard Lonnie Walker IV, who entered the game averaging 11.3 points per game, also struggled, finishing with just six points on the night.

One player who had no trouble racking up points was Virginia redshirt freshman guard De’Andre Hunter. His 22 points were a game-high, and were the most points Hunter has scored in ACC play. Hunter went 3-6 from three-point range, and picked up a four-point play when he was fouled while burying a shot from behind the arc. Hunter’s 15 second-half points were more than any other Virginia player scored all night. 

“To see that kind of effort ... I thought that ignited us," Bennett said.

Sophomore guard Kyle Guy, who is the leading scorer for the Cavaliers this season, had 13 points — marking the 23rd game that he has reached double figures.

With the win over Miami, Virginia clinched a double bye and top-four seed for the ACC Tournament.

“We're not a knockout-punch team,” Bennett said. “We're just going to have to chip away and keep being there defensively and offensively, and hopefully [that] takes its toll over the course of the game."

The Cavaliers will now get a long break from competition until they’re back in action against Georgia Tech in Charlottesville Feb. 21. When the two teams met earlier in the season, Virginia left Atlanta with a 64-48 win. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.