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Hunter, Jerome lead Virginia’s rout of VT

By Hank Kurz Jr.

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Ty Jerome got No. 4 Virginia off to just the start it needed by making a few deep 3-pointers. That opened things up for De’Andre Hunter and quickly shut things off for No. 9 Virginia Tech.

Hunter scored 21 points, Kyle Guy scored 15 and Jerome had 14 points and a career-high 12 assists as the Cavaliers started fast and routed the Hokies 81-59 on Tuesday night.

“He loosened it up early with some of those long threes,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Jerome, who made three 3s, the first from about 25 feet, in the first seven minutes.

With the Hokies stretching their defense, Hunter moved inside, making 8 of 12 shots.

“I just tried to be aggressive in the post,” he said. “We knew they were going to trap and when they didn’t, when they stopped trapping for some reason, I just tried to take advantage of the dude that was guarding me.”

The Cavaliers (16-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) never trailed in the first meeting of the programs in which both were ranked in the top 10. Virginia also remained one of two unbeaten teams in the country along with Michigan, which was idle, and did it against their state rival, which came into John Paul Jones Arena a year ago and won 61-60 in overtime.

“For me, it wasn’t on my mind at all,” Guy said of avenging last year’s loss. “I was just trying to focus on what was at hand. … We punched them in the mouth and they fought back a little bit and we kept our foot on the pedal.”

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 19 points and Ahmed Hill 14 to lead Virginia Tech (14-2, 3-1), which was seeking the first 15-1 start in program history. The Hokies trailed by double figures after 12 minutes and never got within single digits the rest of the way.

“We were just behind — behind on ball pressure, behind on rotation, behind on stunts,” Hokies coach Buzz Williams said. “And with space, categorically, their whole team can make shots.”

Virginia could hardly miss in the first half, making 10 of 14 3-point tries, including one by Kihei Clark at the buzzer to make it 44-22.

The Hokies, meanwhile, were just 2 for 9 from deep and shot 35 percent (7-for-20) from the field compared to 68 percent (17-for-25) for the Cavaliers in the half.

Virginia finished 13 for 23 from 3-point range and shot 58.5 percent overall (31-for-53).

“I don’t think they get off track,” Williams said. “I think they are very sound fundamentally.”

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies arrived in fourth place nationally having made 42.3 percent from 3-point territory and finished 7 for 21 for the game. Virginia Tech also has improved defensively, but the Cavaliers showed them they still have plenty to work on at that end.

Virginia: More than anyone else, Jerome sets the pulse for Virginia when he’s playing well because of his fire and toughness. His first basket was a 3-pointer from well beyond the 3-point arc and his first half was near perfect. He hit four 3-pointers and had seven assists, giving him a hand in 11 of 17 baskets in the half. His 12 assists eclipsed his previous best by three (Louisville, Jan. 31, 2018).

•••

NO. 3 TENNESSEE 106, ARKANSAS 87

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lamonte’ Turner and Jordan Bowden combined to score 40 points off the bench, and No. 3 Tennessee whipped Arkansas for its 11th consecutive victory.

Turner scored 21 points and hit 6 of 8 shots. Bowden was 6-of-7 shooting and 5 of 6 from 3-point range en route to 19 points, and Tennessee’s bench outscored Arkansas’ 50-23.

Tennessee last won 11 straight in the 2007-08 season. Tennessee (15-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) is off to its fastest start since that 2007-08 campaign, when the Vols won 16 of their first 17.

NO. 12 KENTUCKY 69, GEORGIA 49

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Ashton Hagans silenced a hostile crowd by scoring a season-high 23 points, leading No. 12 Kentucky over Georgia.

The Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) pulled away in the second half for their third straight victory.

Hagans, a freshman who initially committed to Georgia out of high school but wound up signing with Kentucky, was booed by the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum each time he touched the ball.

Georgia (9-7, 1-3) led by five in the opening minutes before going to the locker room down 35-31.

NO. 16 BUFFALO 88, WESTERN MICHIGAN 79

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Jeremy Harris had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 16 Buffalo held off upset-minded Western Michigan.

Nick Perkins added 14 points for the Bulls (16-1, 4-0 Mid-American Conference), who trailed by 11 in the first half and struggled to shake free of WMU until the very end. Buffalo had won its first three MAC games by a combined 70 points.

The Broncos (6-11, 0-4) went on a 15-0 run in the first half and led 33-22, but Buffalo rebounded quickly and led 43-39 at halftime.

WAKE FOREST 71, NO. 17 N.C. STATE 67

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Freshman Jaylen Hoard had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Wake Forest blew a 22-point lead before recovering in time to top No. 17 North Carolina State.

Graduate transfer Torry Johnson added 11 points for the Demon Deacons (8-8, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). That included a critical jumper with 1:19 left in a one-point game, along with two free throws with 13.3 seconds left that helped the Demon Deacons (barely) survive a wild night in Winston-Salem.

Wake Forest led 42-27 at halftime, and then 51-29 with a flurry out of the break. But the Wolfpack (14-3, 2-2) made a move with 15 straight points to get back in it, and then fought all the way back to tie it at 58 on Devon Daniels’ floater with 7:46 left.

NO. 24 MISSISSIPPI STATE 71, FLORIDA 68

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Quinndary Weatherspoon converted a three-point play with 3.4 seconds left to lift No. 24 Mississippi State over Florida 71-68.

Lamar Peters scored all 16 of his points in the first half, and Tyson Carter added 12 for Mississippi State (13-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference).

KeVaughn Allen had 17 points for Florida (9-7, 1-3), and Andrew Nembhard had 13 points. Noah Locke had 12 points for the Gators, who had won eight straight against Mississippi State.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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