SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — No. 3 Virginia made itself right at home at Notre Dame’s sold-out Purcell Pavilion, wearing home whites and running out to a 12-0 start.
De’Andre Hunter scored 19 points to lead five Cavaliers in double figures during their 82-55 rout of the Irish on Saturday. Despite four hours of weather delays before they arrived, the Cavaliers looked more in synch than the Irish.
“I told the guys before if you’re ready to play, you’re ready to play regardless of when you get here,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “On the road, to come out and be good defensively . our defense made them earn what they got.”
Junior guard Kyle Guy, Indiana’s 2016 Mr. Basketball at Lawrence Central near Indianapolis, scored 15 points, all in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting. The Cavaliers (18-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned their second straight victory since a 72-70 loss at Duke on Jan. 19.
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Ty Jerome had 13 points, Kihei Clark 12 and Mamadi Diakite 10 for Virginia, which shot 52.2 from the field. The Cavaliers shot 44.4 percent on 8 of 18 3-pointers, dominated the boards 45-33 and made just two turnovers.
John Mooney had his ACC-leading 12th double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds for struggling Notre Dame (11-9), which dropped its fourth in a row and fell deeper into the ACC cellar at 1-6 with No. 2 Duke coming in Monday.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who scheduled an 8 a.m. workout Sunday for his team, is a big fan of Virginia. Last season, the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to be ousted by a No. 16 seed, 74-54, in the NCAA Tournament.
“I can’t say enough how impressed I am with them,” Brey said. “They could win the national championship. They are men who have won together and are polished, and we are the exact opposite right now. We’re searching and trying to build it.”
Virginia’s opening run came as Notre Dame missed its first nine shots before Mooney’s layup with 13:36 left. The Cavaliers hit 16 of their first 26 shots and had just one turnover in the first 20 minutes. They built a 20-point lead, 37-17, on a jumper by Hunter, who had 10 points, with 2:32 left. It was 42-25 at halftime on Guy’s third 3-pointer and 15th point.
An 11-4 Irish run to start the second half, highlighted by two Mooney 3-pointers and one by D.J. Harvey, closed the Virginia lead to 54-42. Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett called a 30-second timeout with 13:24 to go, and a 14-3 run afterward put them ahead 68-45 with 7:09 left.
Many of the 9,149 in attendance preferred the chilly northern Indiana weather rather than see the finish.
Virginia: The Cavaliers have held 16 of their opponents under 60 points and 11 of those to 52 or fewer points. Offensively, they were 47.8 percent from the field (second best in the Bennett era), 39.4 on 3-pointers (second best in school history) and 77.2 percent at the free-throw line (best in school history) coming into the game. They made just 4 of 7 on free throws on Saturday.
“That was men versus boys, flat out,” Brey said. “They took away our spirit. We couldn’t get into any offensive rhythm, and it affected us defensively and it affected our fight, which was disappointing. We played discouraged, which a lot of people play against them.”
Notre Dame: The Irish had been competitive in their last three league losses before late cold spells doomed them against then-No. 13 North Carolina, No. 17 NC State and Georgia Tech. Virginia’s helping man-to-man defense limited the Irish to 10-of-27 shooting in the first half.
Notre Dame is without Rex Pflueger (season-ending knee surgery), Robby Carmody (season-ending shoulder surgery) and 6-foot-11 shot-blocker Juwan Durham (ankle sprain). “They’re missing some guys and their youth shows,” Bennett said. “That affects them. It’s so hard for young men to understand that you have to stay in there.”
Bennett couldn’t say enough good things about Guy, who cast his lot with Virginia and the ACC over playing in the Big Ten.
“So proud of Kyle,” Bennett said of his 6-foot-2 junior guard who played his high school basketball about 2 1/2 hours south of Notre Dame. “All these people have watched him since grade school . watched him shoot that ball. (He has a) beautiful stroke, a quick release. He’s such a great ambassador for our program.”
After 15 first-half points, Guy was held scoreless by Notre Dame in the second half. He took just one shot and got his teammates involved. He finished 3 of 5 from behind the arc and had five rebounds in 31 minutes.
“I love being able to play in my home state,” Guy said. “I knew I’d have a lot (of support) here — there were 60-70 plus.”
Gibbs, who had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, says there are no easy answers for Notre Dame.
“When they punched us in the first half, we really didn’t have an answer,” Gibbs said. “It’s hard to start off down so much and have to fight back, especially against a good, active defensive team.”
Brey had little words for his team afterward.
“We’re not in Virginia’s league right now,” he said. “We’ve had rotations like that in our program before and we’re trying to build that. I just think we could have been a little more competitive at times.”
Virginia: At No. 21 North Carolina State on Tuesday.
Notre Dame: No. 2 Duke on Monday.
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