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No. 4 men’s basketball comes back to defeat No. 8 North Carolina, 69-61

Hunter, Guy score 20 points as the Cavaliers pick up a huge win on the road

<p>Junior guard Kyle Guy hit back-to-back threes late in the game to seal the deal for Virginia.</p>

Junior guard Kyle Guy hit back-to-back threes late in the game to seal the deal for Virginia.

No. 4 Virginia defeated No. 8 North Carolina 69-61 Monday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Cavaliers (21-2, 9-2 ACC) used a late second half comeback to beat the Tar Heels (19-5, 9-2 ACC) in an impressive display of toughness on the road. Sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter and junior guard Kyle Guy led all scorers with 20 points, and junior guard Ty Jerome had a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists. The three players accounted for 55 of the Cavaliers’ 69 points.

Virginia scored first on a tip-in by senior center Jack Salt, but two three-pointers from senior guard Kenny Williams gave the Tar Heels a 6-2 lead.

The Cavaliers responded with two three-pointers to regain the lead from freshman guard Kihei Clark and Guy.

Clark played outstanding defense on North Carolina standout freshman guard Coby White, forcing two turnovers on a 10-0 Virginia run that saw the Cavaliers run out to a 18-11 lead with 12:41 left to play in the half. Clark had 3 steals in the first half.

The Tar Heels were held for 5:36 without a field goal before senior guard Cameron Johnson made a three-pointer to make it 19-15 with 10:05 left to play.

The game went back and forth for the next few possessions, before a dunk by junior forward Mamadi Diakite on a pass from Jerome sparked a 7-0 Cavaliers run to make the score 31-22. Jerome’s court vision fueled Virginia’s first half offense. He finished with six first half assists.

Hunter led Virginia in scoring in the first half with 10 points on 2-2 shooting from three-point range.

Virginia went into the break up 36-29. 29 points marked North Carolina’s fewest points scored in the first half of the season. It was a dominant first half by the Cavaliers, who would have been up by more points if they avoided the seven first half turnovers.

Virginia jumped out to a 40-32 lead to start the half, but North Carolina responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to one point.

Virginia responded with a three-pointer from Hunter to make it 43-39, but second-chance points by the Tar Heels and turnovers by the Cavaliers resulted in a 10-0 run by North Carolina. A long three from White made it 49-43 Tar Heels with 12:06 to play, and the momentum had clearly shifted in the Dean Dome.

White led North Carolina in scoring with 17 points, although he did it on just 6-19 shooting from the field.

The teams exchanged baskets for the next few minutes. A three-pointer from Guy cut North Carolina’s lead to four, 55-51, with 7:26 left to play, and the Cavaliers regained some momentum.

Jerome sunk a three-pointer to tie things up at 55 with 6:09 left to go, and a layup by sophomore forward Jay Huff gave Virginia first lead, 61-59, with 3:12 left to play. It was the Cavaliers first lead since the 14:17 mark in the second half.

After not playing great defense for much of the second half, Virginia locked down at the end of the game, and two threes from Guy on back-to-back possessions ensured the Cavaliers would win. Guy was 5-9 from three that night.

After falling to No. 2 Duke on Saturday, this victory on the road against North Carolina was huge for Virginia.

Despite poor free-throw shooting (10-18) and getting outrebounded on the offensive glass 16-3, the Cavaliers overcame a second half deficit as large as 7 points to win. The victory puts Virginia in second place in the ACC standings.

Next up for the Cavaliers is Notre Dame on Saturday at 2 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.