Virginia runs away from Notre Dame, 70-49
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia has had numerous games this season in which it has exploded for big runs, leading to blowout wins.
Before Saturday, the Cavaliers had won going away in nine of their 13 ACC victories.
And then they did it again Saturday against Notre Dame, with what Irish coach Mike Brey called “a nuclear explosion.”
Sparked by a 28-2 second-half run, the No. 14 Cavaliers cruised to a 70-49 victory at sold-out John Paul Jones Arena.
“Virginia is really good; they are really, really good,” Brey said. “I think they are the best team in the league, and they put it on us twice.”
It was the Cavaliers’ second win over the Fighting Irish this season and gave Virginia (23-5, 14-1) a school-record 14 Atlantic Coast Conference victories.
“It feels like we’ve had a few of those (runs) over the last few games,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Notre Dame is hard to guard. We tightened up offensively and defensively in the second half.”
Forwards Akil Mitchell and Anthony Gill led the Cavaliers with 15 points each and combined to shoot 12 of 13 from the field. Gill’s 15 points were an ACC career high for the sophomore.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon scored 13 points, giving him a streak of 15 games with 11 or more points.
“Virginia might be the best team right now talent-wise in the ACC,” Brey said. “They are very physical. They are really good at guarding you and they dictate the tempo of the game.”
Notre Dame (14-14, 5-10) took a 36-32 lead with 16:56 left and it appeared the Irish would give Virginia a fight until the end.
That wasn’t the case.
The Cavaliers outscored the Irish 38-13 the rest of the way, which included a stretch in which Virginia scored on 15 straight possessions.
Guard Justin Anderson’s block on the defensive end led to Gill’s dunk with 9:18 to go, brought the crowd to life and energized the Cavaliers en route to the 21-point win.
“He’s such an X-factor guy that way,” Bennett said of Anderson. “He comes out of nowhere and he has the ability to track the ball. He made a play and I really think he’s doing the things that are helping us win.”
Virginia shot a blistering 64 percent, including 76 percent in the second half, and knocked down seven 3-pointers.
Notre Dame scored just 19 points in the second half while shooting 39 percent. The Irish went almost nine minutes without a point.
“For 30 minutes, you’re thinking you have a shot at it,” Brey said. “It’s a fragile game. We tried a little bit of everything, and I think the thing that hurt us was we could never get into an offensive rhythm.”
Guard Pat Connaughton was the only Notre Dame player in double figures, with 11 points.
The first 20 minutes was a half of runs, as both teams put together impressive spurts.
After Notre Dame led 7-5 with 16:36 to play, Virginia used a 14-0 run to take a 19-7 lead. The Irish answered with a 23-11 run to close out the half and the teams were tied 30-30 at the break.
The Cavaliers shot 52 percent in the first half, while Notre Dame made 48 percent. Both teams were hot from beyond the arc, as Virginia made 4 of 9 and Notre Dame knocked down 5 of 8.
Mitchell led Virginia with eight first-half points and Gill added six for the Cavaliers.
Notre Dame was led by Connaughton, who had eight points on 3-of-5 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Learn more about betting in Virginia in our Virginia Sports Betting Guide.
NOTES: This was Notre Dame’s second trip to Charlottesville; the Fighting Irish fell to Virginia 83-56 on Jan. 18, 1992. … Ten of Virginia’s 14 ACC wins have come by 10 or more points. … Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon has scored 11 or more points in all 15 ACC games. … Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton is averaging 19.5 points per game in his last two games. … The Cavaliers won their 16th consecutive home ACC game, tying the longest streak in school history.
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