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No. 2 Virginia eases past Pittsburgh, 73-49

The Cavaliers cruised to victory behind double digit scoring from Guy, Jerome and Hunter

<p>Freshman guard Kihei Clark has started the last two games and had zero turnovers in both outings.</p>

Freshman guard Kihei Clark has started the last two games and had zero turnovers in both outings.

No. 2 Virginia beat Pittsburgh 73-49 Saturday afternoon at John Paul Jones arena to remain atop the ACC standings.

The Cavaliers (26-2, 14-2 ACC) cruised past the Panthers (12-17, 2-14 ACC) behind strong outings from junior guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy and sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter. Guy had a game-high 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting from three, Jerome had 13 points and Hunter finished with 12 points and 5 assists.

“Virginia has a really, really good team,” Pittsburgh Coach Jeff Capel said. “I think this is the best offensive team [Tony Bennett] has had. I think they have three really elite players in Guy, Jerome and Hunter.”

Virginia dominated Pittsburgh on both ends in the first half.

Jerome was the man early for the Cavaliers, scoring Virginia’s first four points. The Cavaliers took their first lead of the game at 6-5 on a layup by Hunter with 15:18 left in the half.

Virginia never trailed for the rest of the game.

Pittsburgh switched to a zone, but it didn’t stop the Cavaliers’ momentum. Virginia went on a 16-0 run to take a 27-10 lead with 5:31 to play. Guy scored two three-pointers on the run. 

Pittsburgh went 6:08 without a field goal. A lay-in by graduate point guard Sidy N’dir finally ended the Panthers’ scoring drought, making it 27-12 Virginia.

Hunter played exceptionally well in the first half, and Pittsburgh struggled to stop him from getting to the basket. He finished with a team-high 12 first-half points.

The Cavaliers continued to dominate the Panthers, and Guy sank a three on the subsequent possession. Guy had nine points in the first half on 3-for-5 shooting from three-point range.

Jerome also had an incredibly efficient first half, with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field.

Virginia had a 39-19 lead going into the break. The Cavaliers shot 61.9 percent from the field in the first half, and the Panthers shot just 31.6 percent. They also had 10 first-half turnovers.

The Cavaliers picked up right where they left off to start the second half, scoring the first six points of the half to extend their lead to 45-19.

After that, while the Panthers played some better basketball, they couldn’t make a real dent in the Cavaliers’ substantial lead.

Guy continued his hot shooting, and nailed a corner three to make it 58-33 Virginia with 12:25 to play in the game.

Later in the second half, the Cavaliers showcased some of their depth. Sophomore guard Marco Anthony and freshman guard Kody Stattmann logged significant minutes down the stretch.

“[The starters] did the job early and to start the second half, and it was a way to reward the guys working hard in practice,” Bennett said.

Anthony had six points off the bench, helping Virginia cruise to its sixth-straight conference victory.

Freshman guard Kihei Clark — starting in his second-consecutive game — had yet another solid game alongside senior center Jack Salt, Guy, Jerome and Hunter.

After scoring eight points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field to go along with six assists against Georgia Tech Wednesday night, he had six points and four assists against Pittsburgh. Clark also had zero turnovers in both games.

“He did a good job, and I thought he really set the tone for us defensively, and with his ball security,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “He really ignited our defense.”

Both Guy and Jerome played season lows in minutes, giving them a crucial opportunity to rest ahead of their last road game in conference play against Syracuse Monday night.

The Orange (19-10, 10-6 ACC) beat Wake Forest in dominant fashion Saturday, 79-54, and have played some good basketball down the stretch. Syracuse’s 2-3 matchup zone will certainly challenge Virginia.

“We know they’re really talented,” Jerome said. “They’re really long. Play that 2-3 zone. Have a bunch of players that can make plays off the bounce.”

The Carrier Dome is also a uniquely hostile road environment, with a seating capacity of close to 50,000.

“That place gets really crazy,” Jerome said. “It’s a whole different feel, that arena.”

Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. The game is set to air on ESPN.