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No. 2 men’s basketball passes tough test against Louisville

<p>Sophomore guard Kyle Guy scored 19 points in Thursday afternoon's quarterfinal game against Louisville.</p>

Sophomore guard Kyle Guy scored 19 points in Thursday afternoon's quarterfinal game against Louisville.

Riding high after a massive road win against Duke, the No. 2 Virginia basketball team returned home Wednesday for a clash against Louisville — the biggest threat to the Cavaliers’ ACC title hopes. The Cardinals gave the Cavaliers all they could handle, but one of Virginia’s best offensive performances of the season lifted them to their 10th conference win — a 74-64 victory.

Virginia (21-1,10-0 ACC) was not as sharp on the defensive end as usual, partly due to the length and three point shooting of Louisville (16-6, 6-3 ACC). However, the Cavaliers found a way to win with as four players hit double figures.

Virginia and Louisville played neck-and-neck for most of the first half, with each team trading runs after a slow start. The Cavaliers penetrated the paint well as the Cardinals pressed hard on the outside, but allowed Louisville to hang around by allowing some easy buckets off cuts.

To Virginia fans’ excitement, redshirt freshman forward De’Andre Hunter checked into the game in the middle of the half, with doubts he would play after injuring his ankle against Duke over the weekend. Checking in with him was true freshman guard Marco Anthony, who got his first big ACC minutes as he took over for graduate transfer guard Nigel Johnson, who was suspended for a team rule violation before the game. Anthony impressed in his first series of minutes, hitting a tough jump shot before burying an open three to spark a Virginia run.

Louisville kept pace with Virginia in the first half with the three ball, making four of nine attempts, including two from sophomore guard Ryan McMahon. However, red-hot play from Virginia sophomore guard Kyle Guy kept them a step ahead. Guy went 6-10 in the half for 14 points as Virginia closed out with a 32-26 lead.

More of the same came from Guy in the beginning of the second half, as he dropped four more points before the first timeout. Senior guard Devon Hall complemented Guy with two big three-pointers to extend Virginia’s lead to 10.

Louisville would once again test Virginia’s lead with a run of its own, fueled by hot shooting from the floor. A three from junior forward Deng Adel cut the Cavaliers advantage to six points with under five minutes left, and after a Guy bucket, another triple from McMahon put Louisville within five.

With the Cardinals knocking on the door, Virginia sophomore guard Ty Jerome took matters into his own hands. With four fouls on him, Jerome hit two straight threes to put Virginia up by nine and ice the game.

Virginia found a new way to win on Wednesday night — with lights-out offense in crunch time. Guy led Virginia with 22 points, getting big contributions from from Jerome, Hall and Anthony, who chipped in 16, 12 and 10 respectively.

Now in the driver’s seat to win the ACC, the Cavaliers return to action on Saturday afternoon on the road against Syracuse.