CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Ty Jerome has said all along that his confidence remained high, even when his shot wasn’t falling.
Now that it is falling, he’s given No. 9 Virginia another offensive weapon for opponents to worry about.
Jerome hit 6 of 9 3-point tries and scored a career-high 31 points, including two free throws with 53 seconds left, as the Cavaliers held off Boston College 59-58 on Saturday.
“My confidence never wavers so it’s not really a relief,” Jerome said of an offensive surge that has seen him reach a career high in two of his last three games. “I expect it to fall and I’m going to keep being aggressive no matter what.”
It helps, he said, that on a team with many potential scorers, a hot hand is rewarded.
“That’s huge. You can’t do it without good teammates,” he said. “That’s one thing I think we have that makes it special. That’s what makes this a special team on and off the court. There’s no jealousy here.”
Kyle Guy added 11 points and Isaiah Wilkins had eight with 14 rebounds and four blocks for the Cavaliers (12-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who ended BC’s five-game winning streak.
Jerome Robinson led the Eagles (10-4, 1-1) with 29 points and Jordan Chatman had 18. Boston College scoring leader Ky Bowman (16.8 ppg) didn’t score until just 11:03 remained and finished with five points on 2-for-10 shooting.
The Eagles had two chances to win it, each while inbounding the ball under their basket with 3.1 seconds left. Wilkins knocked the ball away on the first try, but the officials ruled the clock hadn’t started on time, giving the Eagles another chance. On the second try, they inbounded it to Nik Popovic, who was called for pushing off before attempting an 8-footer that missed.
“That’s a big step for us,” Eagles coach Jim Christian said. “One of our key guys didn’t play as well as he probably would have liked and we were still in a one-possession game with 2 seconds left and the ball.”
Jerome, who also had two assists, two steals and five rebounds, hit six 3-pointers, the last two breaking a 51-all tie and then giving Virginia a 57-53 lead with 3:21 left.
“He was unbelievably confident and he took big shots,” Christian said.
After Chatman hit two free throws to pull BC within 57-55, Jerome hit a pair of free throws with 53.8 seconds remaining, allowing Virginia to withstand Robinson’s 3-pointer with 44 seconds to play.
Wilkins’ rebound total was a career high.
“I was trying to steal as many rebounds as I could,” he joked. After a teammate took a rebound away early, he said, “I was like, now I’m stealing everybody else’s.”
Boston College: The Eagles got halfway to their conference victory total of last season with an 89-84 victory against Duke on Dec. 9 and were within 42-39 of the Cavaliers after Bowman got his first points of the game on a 3-pointer. They also were without No. 4 scorer Deontae Hawkins (12.4 ppg), who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Virginia: Jerome’s offensive emergence has been big for Virginia and comes as conference play starts. He’s scored in double figures in three consecutive games and twice established career highs after only hitting double figures twice in the first 10 games. His previous high was 17 points against Savannah State three games ago.
The Eagles return home and face Clemson on Wednesday night.
Virginia plays at Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.