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No. 4 men's basketball dominates No. 9 Virginia Tech, 81-59

Jerome finished with his first career double-double as the Cavaliers cruised past the Hokies

<p>Virginia is now in sole possession of first place in the ACC.</p>

Virginia is now in sole possession of first place in the ACC.

The No. 4 Virginia men’s basketball team dominated Virginia Tech early and often en route to a statement win in conference play at John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday night. The win placed Virginia in sole possession of first place in the ACC.

“We played really hard,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said. “The atmosphere was incredible.”

The No. 4 Cavaliers (16-0, 4-0 ACC) took down the No. 9 Hokies (14-2, 3-1 ACC) 81-59 behind stellar performances from sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter, who led all scorers with 21 points, and junior guard Ty Jerome, who recorded his first ever double-double with 14 points and 12 assists. His 12 assists were an arena record.

“I made the right reads,” Jerome said. “Guys did a great job of making shots around me.”

It was all Jerome for Virginia to start the contest. He either scored or assisted in all of the Cavaliers’ first 19 points.

Jerome single-handedly willed Virginia to an early 11-4 lead with six points and two assists. His two threes both came from very long range.

The Hokies came back to make it 11-9, but another Jerome assist and three took Virginia’s lead back to seven points. It was 16-9 Cavaliers with 13:16 to play in the half.

Sophomore center Jay Huff brought an immediate edge upon coming into the game. He came up with a block, a rebound and a three on consecutive possessions to make the score 19-11.

Virginia kept the momentum going.

Hunter came up with two-consecutive buckets and forced a backcourt violation, and junior guard Kyle Guy drained a three to hand Virginia its biggest lead of the game, 26-14 with 8:29 left to play.

The Cavaliers continued their unstoppable shooting display, using a pair of baskets by Guy to go up 37-20. Virginia Tech Coach Buzz Williams was forced to call a timeout with 3:11 to go in the half.

Virginia’s incredibly dominant first half ended with an exclamation point. Freshman guard Kihei Clark nailed his second three of the night at the buzzer to send the Cavaliers into halftime up 44-22.

Clark also proved to be huge defensively for the Cavaliers, particularly in matching up against Virginia Tech senior guard Justin Robinson, who was held to just nine points on 2-for-7 shooting.

“[Clark] won’t back down,” Bennett said. “He made [Robinson] earn most of the night.”

It was an unprecedented shooting display for the Cavaliers. Virginia shot 10-for-14 from three-point range in the first half, 71.4 percent from the field. Jerome finished the half with 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting from three, to go along with seven assists.

Virginia Tech came out of the half better offensively, and a couple of Cavaliers turnovers made it 48-34 with 15:42 to play.

Virginia didn’t fade, however, and another three from Guy made it 55-36 Virginia with 13:42 left to play.

The Hokies continued to attempt to come back into the game, but could never make a significant dent in the Cavaliers’ significant lead.

A corner three-pointer from junior transfer guard Braxton Key and a tip-in by Jerome made it 66-43 Virginia with 9:44 to go.

Jerome completed his double-double on a pass to Clark for three that made it 73-51 with 5:47 to go.

Hunter continued to dominate inside late in the second half, taking advantage of mismatches to get to the rim. His jumper with 4:18 to play sent him over 20-point mark for the fourth time this year.

“He was so complete tonight,” Bennett said. “He scored in the post, he turned and faced, he drove… I thought his versatility was on full display tonight.”

Virginia closed things out in decisive fashion, beating a Hokies team that had won nine consecutive games to remain undefeated.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Cavaliers, however, as they travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday to face No. 1 Duke (14-2, 3-1 ACC).

Virginia emerged victorious there last year, but this year’s Duke team presents a unique challenge.

“Last year was an awesome win. We know how crazy the environment is,” Jerome said. “We know how talented this year's team is… We’ll be ready for it.”