No. 1 seed Virginia used a dominant second half to cruise by 16th-seed Gardner-Webb 71-56 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region at Columbia, S.C.
Sophomore De’Andre Hunter scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half as the Cavaliers rallied and allowed just 20 points in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Virginia advances to the round of 32, and it will face No. 9 seed Oklahoma on Sunday.
The Cavaliers (30-3) flexed their muscles early and often in the second half and used a 25-5 run to put the game away after trailing by six at halftime. Virginia shot 53 percent in the second half and overcame its largest halftime deficit of the season to notch the win.
Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points while Ty Jerome added 13 to complement Hunter on the offensive end. Despite making 15 turnovers, Virginia outrebounded Gardner-Webb 35-21 and shot 51.9 percent for the game.
The Bulldogs (23-12) were held to 44 percent shooting after connecting on 54 percent of their attempts in the first half. Jose Perez led three Bulldogs in double figures with 19 points while David Efianayi and DJ Laster added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
After tying the score at 4-4 early, Virginia trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half as Gardner-Webb turned eight turnovers into nine points.
The Bulldogs used four early 3-pointers to cushion their lead, led by two apiece from Perez and Efianayi. Gardner-Webb led 36-30 at halftime.
Virginia was beat on the defensive end multiple times but shot 50 percent to cut the deficit to six as Kyle Guy scored all eight of his points in the first half.
Gardner-Webb shot just 32 percent in the second half and made 12 turnovers.
—Field Level Media