- - Sunday, January 14, 2018

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. | The University of Virginia plays a defense-focused style of basketball many outsiders call “boring.” But boring basketball doesn’t pack an arena on a Sunday evening when school isn’t back in session.

Virginia, ranked No. 3 in the nation, dominated its latest ACC victim, North Carolina State, 68-51, to improve to 16-1 overall and 5-0 in the conference before a near-sellout crowd of 14,317 in Charlottesville on Sunday.

Devon Hall poured in a career-high 25 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting and just nine total shots. Kyle Guy added 17 and Isaiah Wilkins had 10 and a team-high six rebounds for the Cavaliers, the only team left unbeaten in ACC play.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, that after the team’s previous game against Syracuse, he reflected with his players on how nothing was “bestowed upon them to start the season.” The Cavaliers entered last week ranked third in both the Associated Press and Coaches’ Polls. With No. 2 West Virginia’s loss Saturday to Texas Tech, it’s likely Virginia will move up in Monday’s newest edition, two months after entering the season unranked.

“The message was, ‘What you’ve earned and worked for, don’t give back. Don’t give it back. You do it your way to not give it back,’” Bennett said.

In the opening minutes Sunday, Guy, Wilkins and Ty Jerome established themselves on offense early and the defense held N.C. State scoreless for 5:35 at one point.

Virginia came out of the under-eight timeout with a modest 19-10 lead and blew it open with an 11-2 run. That stretch included Hall making two free throws and a 3-pointer and Wilkins converting a four-point play, drawing a foul on a made three. Wilkins, a forward who rarely makes 3-point attempts, later said with a smile that he thinks it was the first four-point play of his career.

N.C. State finished the first half with no free throw attempts and a dismal 0-9 mark from long range. But the Wolfpack capitalized on some late-half Virginia turnovers, sparked a quick 6-0 run and drew the halftime score to 30-20.

Hall showed up in clutch moments all night, which he chalks up to a responsibility to leadership as a redshirt senior.

“I’ve been here for five years, so that’s a time where a leader steps up and try to at least keep the composure,” Hall said.

Bennett praised Hall as “efficient” and a “triple threat” after his career day, something also echoed by N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts.

“It was weird because every time we made a little run, those (Virginia guards) made plays, especially when you look at Devon Hall,” Keatts said. “He did a tremendous job.”

With the score 45-25, Torin Dorn powered the Wolfpack on an 11-2 run over four minutes to come back within 11 points. He scored nine of the points on that run, including the Wolfpack’s first successful 3-pointer after they missed their first 12 tries. Dorn went on to make 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.

Having found their groove too late in the evening, the Wolfpack kept the score respectable the rest of the way but couldn’t come within 10 points again. Guy hit all three of his successful 3-pointers late in the game to soar into double figures, and N.C. State never could match Virginia’s scoring clip when the Cavaliers were at their best.

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