#4 UVA tops Middle Tennessee, 74-52

UVA basketballFourth-ranked UVA got the win in its opening game at the Battle 4 Atlantis, defeating Middle Tennessee by a comfortable 74-52 margin.

Credit to the Blue Raiders for making Virginia work.

The ‘Hoos (4-0) led 30-9 with 8:36 to go in the first half, but Middle Tennessee would get back to single digits with a 16-4 run over the next 6:32 before UVA went into the break up 13, at 38-25.

The Blue Raiders (3-2) would get as close as eight early in the second half before the Cavaliers went on a 9-0 run to begin the strangulation.

Coach Tony Bennett will take some things from this one to work on later, particularly his team’s struggles against the 1-3-1 zone that Middle Tennessee used to get back into the game.

Virginia was sloppy offensively against the 1-3-1, finishing with 13 turnovers for the game.

The 1-3-1 also got the ‘Hoos out of what they had been doing early to build the first big lead. Virginia hit 11 of its first 16 from the floor, but finished under 50 percent (26-of-54) from the floor for the game.

De’Andre Hunter had a characteristic solid night for UVA, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in 35 minutes.

Kyle Guy also had 15, and Braxton Key had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Mamadi Diakite got the start in the post, but Bennett largely went small in this one. His bigs, Diakite, Jack Salt and Jay Huff, got a combined 38 minutes of floor time, as Bennett countered Middle Tennessee’s small lineup with a lot of 5’9” freshman Kihei Clark, who scored seven points in 22 minutes off the bench.

Virginia shot 12-of-17 shooting in the paint, 6-of-16 from midrange and 8-of-23 on threes. Middle Tennessee was 14-of-25 in the paint, 3-of-13 from midrange and also 3-of-13 from three.

UVA had a 38-26 edge on the boards, a 15-6 advantage in second-chance points and a 25-11 margin in points off turnovers.

The ‘Hoos advance to the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals, where they will face Dayton (4-0) at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

Dayton won its first-round game on Wednesday against Butler by a 69-64 final score.

Story by Chris Graham


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