NEW YORK (AP) — Kyle Guy and No. 1 Virginia looked like healthy favorites in their postseason debut, beating Louisville 75-58 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Guy scored 19 points in his speedy return from a sprained left knee and the top-seeded Cavaliers (29-2) weathered a second-half charge. They’ll play 19th-ranked and fourth-seeded Clemson or No. 12 seed Boston College in the first semifinal Friday night in Brooklyn.
Devon Hall had 14 points as Virginia methodically dismantled a Louisville team desperate for a big upset to augment its NCAA Tournament credentials. Instead, the ninth-seeded Cardinals (20-13) will sweat out Selection Sunday hoping for an at-large bid.
Guy sprained his left knee last Saturday in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame and went scoreless in 18 minutes. But the sophomore guard, Virginia’s leading scorer and a first-team All-ACC selection, started against the Cardinals as expected, wearing a large, black brace on his knee.
Coming off curls and firing from long range, he shot 7 of 14 from the field — including 4 for 6 on 3-pointers — in 36 minutes. Guy also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, and his three-point play with 2:35 left made it 69-54 soon after Louisville had sliced the margin to four.
Virginia opened a 17-point lead late in the first half and was still up 13 before the Cardinals went on an 11-2 spurt to trim the deficit to 56-52 with 8:55 remaining. But reserve forward Mamadi Diakite scored six straight Cavaliers points inside, putting in his own airball after it slipped out of Louisville’s grasp, and Virginia regained control.
A week earlier, the Cardinals nearly took down Virginia at home before losing 67-66 in gut-wrenching fashion. They led by 13 with 11 minutes to play and by four with 0.9 seconds on the clock, but redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter, the ACC Sixth Man of the Year, banked in a 3-point heave at the buzzer to win it for the Cavaliers.
A second-round victory Wednesday over Florida State gave the Cardinals another shot at Virginia, but this time they came up way short.
Hunter had 12 points for the Cavaliers and Ty Jerome, from nearby New Rochelle in the suburbs, added 11. Diakite scored 10, helping UVA to a 42-16 advantage in the paint.
Ray Spalding led Louisville with 16 points, and Deng Adel had 13. The Cardinals stayed in it for a while by making nine 3s, but shot just 36.7 percent overall against the nation’s stingiest scoring defense.
Louisville: As this scandal-plagued season nears an end, the Cardinals dropped to 1-3 in ACC Tournament games. If they don’t get invited to the NCAAs, they’ll certainly wonder what might have been if they had held off Virginia last week.
Virginia: Of course, the Cavaliers would love to add to their accomplishments this season by winning the school’s third ACC Tournament title. But after running away with the regular-season crown by four games, they probably have little else on the line in Brooklyn. The unanimous No. 1 team in the nation after beginning the season unranked, Virginia figures to have a top seed in the NCAA Tournament — perhaps even the No. 1 overall seed — already locked up. The Cavaliers are looking for their first national championship. They’ve been to the Final Four twice, in 1981 and 1984 under coach Terry Holland.
Louisville: Will hold its breath on Sunday.
Virginia: The school’s fourth ACC semifinal appearance in five years.