No. 2 Virginia sends Pitt to 12th consecutive loss
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — With sore knees and another game Monday night, Kyle Guy was fine playing just 25 minutes.
He did more than enough with that action, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 17 points as No. 2 Virginia beat Pitt, 73-49, on Saturday for the Panthers’ 12th straight loss.
“We’re playing it smart. We’ve got a game in less than 48 hours,” Guy said, referring to Virginia’s trip to Syracuse on Monday night.
Ty Jerome added 13 points and De’Andre Hunter scored 12 for the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-2 ACC), who maintained at least a share of the lead in the ACC. The Cavaliers can claim the regular-season title by winning their last two games because they beat North Carolina in their only head-to-head matchup.
Jared Wilson-Frame scored 15 points, and Au’diese Toney had 12 for Pitt (12-17, 2-14). The loss was the 23rd in a row on the road for the Panthers and their 20th consecutive in ACC road games.
“I actually thought we did some good things in the game,” first-year Panthers coach Jeff Capel said. “We moved the ball. We got some good shots at times. We got some shots at the basket, and we have to be able to finish.”
Charged with guarding Pitt’s Xavier Johnson for much of the game, Virginia guard Kihei Clark played a significant role in limiting Pitt’s scoring leader to three points, by far his lowest output this season, on 0-for-7 shooting with four turnovers.
Johnson had been averaging 16.7 points through 15 conference games, including a career-high 30 on Clemson a month ago.
The starting point guard’s offensive woes were representative of the Panthers’ futility against the country’s top scoring defense, which held Pitt to 38.6 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
“It’s tough for us, but I think the numbers show that they’ve been tough for everyone, with the exception of one team,” Capel said, referring to No. 3 Duke, which swept the regular-season series with the Cavaliers. “They’re a really good defensive team year-in and year-out. That’s a staple of their program. It’s what it’s built on.”
Jerome played less than 25 minutes and wasn’t as thrilled with his reduced role, but coach Tony Bennett said his star guards were victims of their own efficiency.
“They did the job early and they did to start the second half, and it was a way to also reward the guys who work hard in practice,” Bennett said. “Of course, to be able to do that was important.”
Monday’s game also will mark the third time since early February the Cavaliers will play on the road on a Monday night after a Saturday home game, and they will be trying for their third consecutive road victory in that scenario. They won 69-61 at No. 5 North Carolina on Feb. 11 and 64-58 at No. 20 Virginia Tech on Feb. 18.
Bennett likes the challenge, which mirrors what teams do in the NCAA Tournament.
“In a sense, you have to be ready to go,” Bennett said. “You’ve got to be smart with your preparation the day in between and you’re in, usually, a hostile environment and it’s certainly a challenge. We’re in some important games, and I think it’s a healthy challenge.”
Virginia led 11-10 before Jay Huff’s basket sparked a 21-2 run that started with 16 consecutive points. Guy hit three of his five 3-pointers during the surge, and the Panthers went 6:15 between field goals before Sidy N’Dir’s driving basket with 5:06 to play in the half. Virginia led 39-19 at halftime.