No. 4 Virginia remains unbeaten with easy 83-56 win over BC
BOSTON (AP) — Virginia Cavaliers‘ coach Tony Bennett is usually known for his relaxed demeanor on the sideline.
His team looked exactly like that on the court Wednesday night in its first Atlantic Coast Conference road game.
Mamadi Diakite matched his career-high with 18 points, De’Andre Hunter also scored 18 and the fourth-ranked Cavaliers remained unbeaten with an 83-56 victory over Boston College.
“I think being on the road you have to keep your poise,” Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome said. “You have to make sure everybody’s calm, everybody stays locked in through the adversity to stay calm.”
Jerome added 13 points and Kyle Guy 10 for the Cavaliers (14-0, 2-0 ACC).
The Cavaliers’ defense helped break it open in the second half, but Bennett wasn’t pleased with the total effort.
“I think our offense won the game tonight,” he said. “There’s some areas there that need to be tightened up. I thought the balance and versatility on the offense is what really won it for us.”
BC shot just 32 percent in the second half.
“I thought we shot the ball well in the first half,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “In the second half we did not. I thought we had some pretty decent shots.”
With No. 15 Houston getting upset by Temple earlier Wednesday, Virginia remained one of only two undefeated teams along with second-ranked Michigan.
It’s Virginia’s best start since opening 2014-15 with 19 straight victories.
The Cavaliers came out looking very business-like during warmups and in the opening half, walking off the court toward their locker room appearing just as relaxed at halftime with a 43-31 edge.
Leading 28-23 in the closing minutes of the first half, Virginia went on an 11-3 run over a 3:55 stretch, pushing its advantage to 39-26. The Cavaliers moved the ball very well, getting open looks that led to easy baskets.
The Eagles had a matchup problem with 6-foot-9 forward Diakite in the first half. He scored 17 points – with all of his baskets in the paint – on 7 of 10 shooting.
BC made a brief spurt at the start of the second half, closing it to 45-39 on Popovich’s 3-pointer from the top of the key before the Cavaliers took charge by turning up the defense and going on a game-breaking 19-2 spree, holding the Eagles scoreless for over seven minutes.
Virginia: The next three games may give a better picture of how good the Cavaliers can be this season. Following a trip to Clemson Saturday, they host ninth-ranked Virginia Tech on January 15 before what’s likely to be a highly-anticipated matchup at top-ranked Duke on Jan. 19.
Boston College: The Eagles opened their ACC season with a loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday before facing Virginia. For a young team looking for some early-season confidence, they were overmatched in their first two games. . Forward Steffon Mitchell missed the game with a quad injury. “We miss him. We’re not a very deep team to begin with,” Christian said.
It was the Cavaliers’ 11th straight ACC road win and a nation-leading 12th “true” road victory in row.
They went 9-0 on the road in the league last season.
Boston Celtics’ President Danny Ainge watched the game courtside, holding a touchscreen device watching the end of the Celtics game played about 5 miles away until it ended.
Seated baseline were 26 NBA scouts – an unusually high number for a game at Conte Forum.
Midway into the first half, the Cavaliers were serenaded with a chant of “Let’s go ‘Hoos!” from a large contingent of Virginia fans.
“That was really nice,” Hunter said. “I really wasn’t expecting that honestly. Having them here made it feel like kind of a home game.”
Virginia: At Clemson Saturday at noon.
Boston College: At Notre Dame Saturday at noon.