COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ty Jerome had a season-high 25 points and No. 5 Virginia added to its perfect start with a 69-52 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers improved to 10-0 for the first time since they opened with 19 straight wins on their way to the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the 2014-15 season. They showed off their usual stout defense while sending the Gamecocks (4-6) to their third straight loss — and second in a row to a No. 5 team after falling at then fifth-ranked Michigan on Dec. 8.
Freshman point guard Kihei Clark, who underwent wrist surgery less than two weeks ago, returned during this game and had two points and two assists off the bench.
South Carolina shot just 36 percent (20 for 55) from the field, including a 3-for-18 performance from 3-point range.
The Gamecocks closed to 35-31 on Felipe Haase’s 3-pointer early in the second half, but the Cavaliers then grabbed control with a 17-4 run. Jerome opened the decisive stretch with a 3 and Braxton Key’s dunk made it 52-35 with 13 minutes left.
Kyle Guy had 18 points for Virginia, and Mamadi Diakite finished with 10.
Chris Silva led South Carolina with 11 points.
Jerome pushed the pace early with 13 points in the first 12 minutes, helping the Cavaliers to a 22-12 lead. But the Gamecocks scored 14 of the next 19 points, pulling within one on Alanzo Frink’s first 3-pointer of the season with 3:23 left in the half.
Virginia: The Cavaliers showed off their depth by overcoming a rough night for leading scorer De’Andre Hunter, a touted NBA prospect. Hunter finished with five points in his second straight single-digit scoring game after going for 13 or more in Virginia’s first eight contests.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are still looking for their identity. Silva stepped up in the second half, but it wasn’t enough against the talented Cavaliers.
South Carolina had a depleted roster for the matchup with Virginia. Junior forward Maik Kotsar is out indefinitely because of a concussion, and freshman point guard T.J. Moss is dealing with a high ankle sprain and foot injury. Justin Minaya had knee surgery in November and isn’t expected back until next month.