CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Guy scored 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, and second-ranked Virginia rallied to beat North Carolina State 76-56 in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Big man Jack Salt provided an unexpected offensive boost with a career-high 18 points for the top-seeded Cavaliers (29-2), who trailed 29-27 at halftime. But Virginia shot 63 percent after the break and scored 49 points, with long runs of efficient offense to go with tough defense.
Guy made 10 of 13 shots and 7 of 9 from 3-point range for Virginia, which is trying to win back-to-back tournament titles. That was enough offense to offset a rough shooting day for Ty Jerome, who had two points on 1-for-11 shooting but had 10 assists.
Markell Johnson had 13 points to lead the eighth-seeded Wolfpack (22-11), who shot 39 percent and made only 15 of 25 free throws.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack arrived in Charlotte on the NCAA Tournament bubble and on the cut line for many mock brackets. But N.C. State helped itself with Wednesday’s second-round win against fellow bubble team Clemson. N.C. State had a good start in pursuit of an even bigger win, leading by six midway through the first half. But the team faded after halftime, shooting 8 of 21 after the break and missing too many free throws.
Virginia: While Guy’s shooting led the way, Salt’s performance was perhaps even more welcome. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound New Zealander provides primarily a physical interior presence and had cracked double figures in scoring just once all season, including five straight scoreless games coming into Charlotte. But he made 7 of 8 shots — including an off-balance driving reverse layup while drawing a foul — to go with six rebounds. Getting reliable interior production from him behind Guy, Jerome and De’Andre Hunter would be a significant boost to Virginia’s postseason chances.