- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Virginia was nearly unstoppable against Notre Dame.

Except for the final five minutes of the first half, when the Cavaliers let the Fighting Irish cut a 20-point lead in half at intermission, Virginia did just about everything right Tuesday night in handing Notre Dame its worst loss of the season, 68-53.

Malcolm Brogdon, coming off a season-high 18 points in a win against Virginia Tech, had 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals as Virginia forced Notre Dame into a season-high 20 turnovers.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett was pleased by the way his players worked together.

“We were sharing the ball, making the extra pass, trying to wear them down a little bit and passing up a decent shot for a better one,” he said.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said he believes the Cavaliers are the best team in the ACC.

“They thoroughly beat us down tonight. I don’t know if you ever survive 13 first-half turnovers and deserve to win the game. We made some bad decisions, but I think they’re really good defensively. They kind of imposed their will on us and broke our spirit a little bit.”

The Cavaliers (16-5, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are off to their best league start since the squad led by Ralph Sampson in 1982-83 also started 7-1. The Irish (11-10, 2-6) have lost six of their last seven and their fourth home game, their most home losses since losing five during the 2005-06 season.

Brogdon, who scored in double figures for the eighth straight game, hit his first five shots as the Cavaliers raced to a 20-point lead in the first 15 minutes.

Brogdon said the fast start gave the Cavaliers confidence.

“That produces chemistry between us, and potential. Everybody’s maximizing their potential right now and playing to their fullest, and I think that’s why we’re clicking so well,” he said.

Bennett also was pleased with the play of Mike Tobey, who added 14 points for the Cavaliers.

“He showed his touch. He’s evolving. You see those flashes,” he said.

Bennett was worried about how his team would come out after bad weather caused their airplane to leave late Monday from Charlottesville, Va., then they had to fly into Chicago and bus in to South Bend. He credited his veteran players.

“The veteran guys, the guys that have been there, established the right kind of patience and defense intensity and I thought that was the difference,” he said.

Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste scored 10 points each for the Irish, who shot 43 percent. The previous largest loss for the Irish this season was 83-70 to Indiana State in November. None of their previous ACC losses had been by more than eight points.

The Cavaliers made 14 of their first 18 shots and used a 17-3 run to take a 32-12 lead when Anthony Gill made a 15-foot jumper. Notre Dame, which had a season-low five turnovers Saturday against Wake Forest, had 12 turnovers in the first 15 minutes. The Cavaliers got started again quickly in the second half, hitting their first four shots and forcing two more turnovers during a 9-0 run to take a 43-24 lead and cruised to the win.

Garrick Sherman finished with eight points for the Irish, marking just the second time in the last 18 games he failed to score in double figures. Bennett said the plan was to try to trap Sherman, who had a game-high five turnovers.

Brey said he believes his older players are getting worn down by the recent struggles.

“We need to see if we can run better offense and take care of the ball for 10 minutes,” he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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