Virginia extends win streak over Lousiville to eight: Scott German

UVA basketballLOUISVILLE, KY. Louisville’s free fall continued Saturday, as the Cardinals surrendered another double-digit lead in a 64-52 loss to Virginia here in the KFC Yum! Center.

And unlike the last second-half meeting in this arena between the two teams, the game didn’t require a miracle finish by the Cavaliers. Today the Cardinals methodically watched a 10-point halftime lead slowly evaporate as Virginia shut down a torrid three-point first-half shooting spree by Louisville.

Louisville stretched their lead to as many as 12 in the first half thanks to an onslaught of three-pointers, including a last-second bank-in three by Jordan Nwora that sent the crowd into a frenzy as the Cardinals led at the break 37-27.

But it was truly a tale of two halves here today. Virginia came storming back in the second half, utilizing a dominating inside game to turn the tables on Louisville. The game was still within reach until the 8:20 mark of the second half.

A controversial charge called on Louisville resulted in an untimely technical foul on Cardinals coach Chris Mack. Virginia capitalized, closing out the game on a 15-5 run after the technical.

De’Andre Hunter carried the Cavaliers in the second half. The sure-fire NBA first-rounder scored 19 points in the final 20 minutes to finish with 26. Hunter played only seven minutes in the opening half plagued with two fouls. And everything Hunter gave, the Cavaliers surely needed.

Kyle Guy and Jerome Hunter finished with a combined 12 points on 4-20 shooting.

Jay Huff assumed the “next man up” mentality for Virginia. Getting nine minutes of action in the opening half, Huff scored 10 points, on 5-6 shooting, including two monster dunks.

Huff also added two blocks and seven rebounds, finishing with 12 points.

The two-halves story was simple. Louisville’s first two makes from the field came on back-to-back three-pointers by forward Dwayne Sutton. The Cardinals just lived from behind the arc from there on, connecting on 10 first-half threes compared to zilch for Virginia.

For the game the Cavaliers hit only two threes, both in the final 20 minutes.

Second half, different story for Louisville. The interior game was a non-factor the entire contest for the Cardinals, and when the bonus points went dry, the lead slowly crept away for Louisville.

The Cardinals finished 2-of-17 from behind the arc in the game’s closing 20 minutes of play.

So, with the demise of the bonus land points for Louisville, the Cavaliers continued their interior punishment, outscoring Louisville 38-4 in the paint.

It’s no secret that Louisville has tough times finishing games in their last two home games: the Cardinals blew a 23-point second-half lead to Duke, and came within a whisker of losing a big second-half lead to Clemson, somehow escaping with a one-point win.

But today give Virginia credit, in front of an absolute raucous gathering of nearly 20,000 fans the Cavaliers never blinked, closing the game on a 21-5 run.

Despite leaving the floor down 10 at the break, Virginia came out in the second half the more poised team, outscoring Louisville 37-15 in the second half.

Louisville coach Mack maybe summed up what most Virginia fans already know in his opening postgame comment: “To have a 10-point lead against one of the nation’s best teams … well. we just knew what was coming,” said Mack.

Cavalier nation probably knew as well.

Virginia heads home form the Bluegrass state with a 12-2 ACC record and 24-2 overall. Up next is a home matchup with Georgia Tech Wednesday evening.

Story by Scott German

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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