No. 2 Virginia pulls away from NC State

Big Tournament

North Carolina State head coach Kevin Keatts, left, and Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, right, watch their teams play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Kyle Guy scored 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, and second-ranked Virginia rallied to beat North Carolina State 76-56 in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Big man Jack Salt provided an unexpected offensive boost with a career-high 18 points for the top-seeded Cavaliers (29-2), who trailed 29-27 at halftime. But Virginia shot 63 percent after the break and scored 49 points, with long runs of efficient offense to go with tough defense.

Guy made 10 of 13 shots and 7 of 9 from 3-point range for Virginia, which is trying to win back-to-back tournament titles. That was enough offense to offset a rough shooting day for Ty Jerome, who had two points on 1-for-11 shooting but had 10 assists.

Markell Johnson had 13 points to lead the eighth-seeded Wolfpack (22-11), who shot 39 percent and made only 15 of 25 free throws.


N.C. State: The Wolfpack arrived in Charlotte on the NCAA Tournament bubble and on the cut line for many mock brackets. But N.C. State helped itself with Wednesday’s second-round win against fellow bubble team Clemson. N.C. State had a good start in pursuit of an even bigger win, leading by six midway through the first half. But the team faded after halftime, shooting 8 of 21 after the break and missing too many free throws.

Virginia: While Guy’s shooting led the way, Salt’s performance was perhaps even more welcome. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound New Zealander provides primarily a physical interior presence and had cracked double figures in scoring just once all season, including five straight scoreless games coming into Charlotte. But he made 7 of 8 shots – including an off-balance driving reverse layup while drawing a foul – to go with six rebounds. Getting reliable interior production from him behind Guy, Jerome and De’Andre Hunter would be a significant boost to Virginia’s postseason chances.


N.C. State: The Wolfpack will await its postseason fate on Selection Sunday.

Virginia: The Cavaliers advanced to Saturday’s semifinals.

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