#23 Virginia rebounds from loss to Gonzaga, wins ACC opener at Notre Dame, 66-57
Notre Dame was battle-tested. Virginia had just been pantsed on national TV.
When the going got tough, and Jay Huff having to leave with his fourth foul with 9:40 to go is the going getting tough, you were going to find out what this Virginia team was made of.
Turns out, it has something.
UVA held the Irish to a single field goal in the final five minutes, and withstood a bonkers night from Nate Laszewski to post a 66-57 win in South Bend Wednesday night.
Laszewski had 28 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, and Juwan Durham added 19 on 7-of-11 shooting.
But Kihei Clark dominated his matchup with Notre Dame point guard Prentiss Hubb, who had come in averaging a team-best 16.4 points per game, but finished with four points on 1-of-8 shooting from the floor.
Clark, for his part, had a team-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, and maybe more importantly for his team, he had five assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes.
Clark had put up 19 points but had six turnovers in UVA’s 98-75 loss to #1 Gonzaga this past weekend, and had been averaging an ugly 2.5 turnovers per game coming in.
The ‘Hoos (5-2, 1-0 ACC) had 15 as a team in the loss to the ‘Zags, who shot 60.3 percent from the floor, hit 10-of-20 from three, and had 21 makes in 29 shots at the rim, getting into lane with regularity, finishing with impunity.
The focus on defense was the difference in the ACC road opener.
Notre Dame (3-5, 0-2 ACC) hit just five of its 20 shots from three, and was just 7-of-13 on shots at the rim.
Virginia never trailed, leading by as many as nine in the first half, settling for a 30-24 lead at the break, behind 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting from Jay Huff.
But Huff picked up a cheap second foul defending a pick-and-roll 40 feet from the basket in the final minute of the first half, then was assessed his third getting caught behind Durham on a rim run five minutes into the second half.
UVA briefly had a double-digit lead, but with Huff relegated to the bench, the Irish was able to get back into the game.
A 12-3 run over a 5:44 stretch, the final point coming on a Durham free throw after Huff’s fourth foul sent him to the bench with 9:40 to go, cut the Virginia lead to one, at 45-44.
Huff wouldn’t get back out on the floor until the under-four timeout, but the Cavaliers, with sophomore Justin McKoy filling in for Huff at the five, outscored Notre Dame 12-7 over the next 6:25 to lead 57-51 when Huff subbed back in with 3:15 to go.
A pair of Hubb free throws coming back from the media timeout would cut the lead to four, but Clark converted an and-one on Virginia’s next possession to push the lead to 60-53, and Sam Hauser answered a Durham short jumper with a three with 1:40 to go that made it 63-55.
After a defensive stop, Huff threw down a dunk from a nice dish from Clark with a minute left to push the lead back to 10, and that was it.
Huff finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and hauled in five rebounds in 24 minutes.
Hauser had 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and snatched a game-high 10 boards in 38 minutes.
Nice Isaiah Wilkins-like night for McKoy, who had six points and six rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.
Next up for Virginia: in-state ACC rival Virginia Tech (8-1, 2-0 ACC) Saturday at 4 p.m. in JPJ.
Story by Chris Graham