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Fighting Off Raiders

Game Highlights

The Hoos took their first step up the ladder of level of competition against Middle Tennessee State in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas. Although the final margin of victory was 22 points, this game was no sunset stroll on the beach.  Virginia came out looking like a well-oiled machine as it rolled to a 30-9 lead, but the Blue Raiders were unwilling to go without a fight. They would respond with a 16-4 run of their own with a 1-3-1 trap that disrupted the Cavaliers' passing lanes and forced several turnovers. After Virginia pushed the lead back up to 13 at the end of the first half, Middle Tennessee charged out of the locker room with the first five points of the second half to draw within 8.

The specter of UMBC ascended from the Bahamas balloom floor as if conjured by a voodoo master as the Kenpom #163-ranked Blue Raiders fought for a victory they believed they could grab.  They seemed to have the better athletes, playing faster and stronger than the ACC squad and getting to the rim at will while taking apart the Virginia offense the way the 184th-ranked dogs from Baltimore County had just eight months ago.

Wahoo Josh for HOOS Place

Kyle Guy was having none of it. A three-pointer off a feed by De'Andre Hunter and a pair of free throw following a steal bookended a 9-0 run in less than two minutes by the Hoos to blast the lead back up to 17 and for all intents and purposes end the battle. Middle Tennessee did not quit, but they would get no closer than 11 points again, and were down by 24 when Tony Bennett called off the pursuit with 2:30 remaining.

 

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