Wahoos Bulldoze Wake Forest
I'm sure Tony Bennett was thrilled with his team's 25-3 start to the game. I know he was unhappy with the 14-4 end of the half, because visiting Wake Forest was the team with 14. They went into the locker room two made baskets from an 8-point game. "We got seduced into shooting some questionable shots," Bennett said after the game.
The Cavaliers had gotten full of themselves and blown a golden opportunity. Not to worry, though, because they roared out of the locker room refocused for the second half and put this one in the paid column with a 17-6 blitz in the first six minutes. From there they cruised to yet another ACC beatdown. In six ACC games so far, only Duke has been within 20 points of the Hoos at the last media timeout. Next up? A trip to South Bend, Indiana, and an injury-depleted Notre Dame squad that just lost to Georgia Tech. Oh boy.
The Cavaliers charged into the paint time and again in the game-opening 12-0 and 13-0 runs that sandwiched a Brandon Childress three-pointer. Mamadi Diakite scored Virginia's first seven points. He rebounded his own miss and was fouled on the putback for an old-fashioned three-pointer on the game's first possession, then got in the lane again on an assist from Kyle Guy, and for an encore he swept across the lane from left-to-right with a majestic hook shot that was part Spiderman and part Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Mamadi would finish with 11 points and 6 offensive rebounds. Avatar De'Andre Hunter took up the scoring after Mamadi took his bow, nailing Virginia's first newfangled three-point play, then powering through a foul by Wake's Chaundee Brown for a layup and chance at another original three-point play. He missed the free throw.
Guy and Hunter had collaborated to erase the effect of Childress's trey and push the lead to 17-3 when Bennett unchained the Huffbeast and let him loose in the arena. Jay Huff entered the game all like:
Within two minutes of entering the game, Huff had blocked a shot, hit a three, barrelled into the lane for an and-1, and slammed home an alley oop from Ty Jerome. It was 25-3, and the JPJ was jumping.
Then the Siren began singing and the Hoos followed her into the Sea of Questionable Shots. The Cavaliers began playing like they were down at the Dell, and 25-3 became 32-9, then Childress and fellow ACC-legacy Sharone Wright, Jr. hit four straight threes to slash Virginia's lead to 13 at the half.
The Cavaliers' leaders put down the Wake challenge quickly in the second half. Jerome started it with a three from the right wing. Jack Salt converted a three-point play. Guy went over 1000 points in his college career with a pair of free throws on a technical foul by Wake coach Danny Manning, and closed the run with a three that made it 53-29. Virginia cruised from there and with three minutes to play, the Green Team began filtering in.
Virginia had five players finish with double-digit points, led by Guy and Huff with 12 apiece. Hunter and Diakite added 11 and Jerome had 10. Despite the hot starts to both halves, the Hoos shot a poor 38.6% from the floor and 33% from the arc. They did, however, return to form at the free throw line, going 17-21, and turn the ball over only 7 times. Wake shot even worse - 30.9% overall and 25% from the arc.
Now 5-1 in the ACC and 17-1 overall, Virginia hits the road. Saturday they visit Notre Dame, then Tuesday they invade Raleigh to take on the Wolfpack of NC State.
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