Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
No. 2 Virginia remains unbeaten in ACC with win over Louisville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A subpar night for Virginia’s normally stingy defense didn’t get in the way of the second-ranked Cavaliers’ 13th straight victory.
Kyle Guy scored 22 points and Ty Jerome hit two big 3-pointers to stall a rally by hot-shooting Louisville in the closing minutes as Virginia padded its lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 74-64 win Wednesday night.
Jerome finished with 16 points and Devon Hall shook off a bout with the flu to add 12 for the Cavaliers (21-1, 10-0 ACC). The Cavaliers also got a huge boost from seldom-used freshman Marco Anthony, who scored 10 points.
“I’m so happy for him to be able to see him go out there and play that well,” Hall said of Anthony. “I wasn’t really surprised because he works his butt off and he always says, ‘I’m just waiting on my moment.’ He did a great job tonight. He helped us. Big lift.”
Anthony was 4 for 6 from the field and said he wasn’t nervous.
“I’m real confident in myself because of the hard work I put in, so just being ready for the moment,” he said.
Virginia’s start is its best in ACC play since the 1980-81 team featuring sophomore Ralph Sampson won its first 12 games. The winning streak is Virginia’s longest since it won 19 in a row to begin the 2014-15 season.
The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense (52.1 points per game) and are third in field-goal percentage defense (.370), but allowed the Cardinals to become the first team to make at least half their shots this year. Louisville was 25 for 50, 50 percent, and made eight 3-pointers.
“They exploited some things. We didn’t guard perfectly and they made us look out of position at times,” coach Tony Bennett said.
Virginia, however, was better, hitting 29 of 54 shots, 53.7 percent, including nine of 16 from 3-point territory.
“When they shoot the ball like that, you’re going to have to make more than eight threes to beat them,” Louisville coach David Padgett said. “It’s a game where you literally just have to tip your hat to the other team and just they just made big plays and big shots.”
Ray Spalding scored 16 points and Deng Adel had 15 points for the Cardinals (16-6, 6-3). Louisville made nine of 10 shots in one late stretch, closing to within 62-57 on a long 3-pointer by Ryan McMahon with 3:44 left, but Jerome answered with his long back-to-back 3s.
“Those were impressive shots,” Bennett said of Jerome’s 3-pointers, each of which was taken well behind the 3-point arc. “He just needs a little space and if you come in too close, he’ll get in the lane and make some tough shots.”
The victory gave Virginia a three-game lead in the conference.
BIG PICTURELouisville: The Cardinals continue to have trouble with Virginia’s Pack-Line defense, even while shooting 50 percent (25 of 50). They committed 13 turnovers and were outscored 22-6 off those mistakes. The loss was also the fifth straight for Louisville against Virginia, and sixth in seven games since the Cardinals joined the ACC.
Virginia: A three-game suspension for reserve guard Nigel Johnson provided a rare opportunity for freshman Marco Anthony and he made the most of it, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and scoring 10 points in 18 minutes. It was only the fourth ACC game that Anthony has gotten into and his point total doubled his career high. He scored five against Savannah State on Dec. 19.
Louisville is at home against Florida State on Saturday.
Virginia is on the road at Syracuse on Saturday.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.