De’Andre Hunter had 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to help the fourth-ranked Virginia men’s basketball team beat Middle Tennessee 74-52 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers (4-0) advance to face Dayton in Thursday’s semifinals. The game will tip off at 4 p.m. and air on ESPN.
“I thought De’Andre’s completeness showed offensively and defensively,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who has guided the Cavaliers to a nation-leading 22-game November winning streak dating back to the 2015-16 season.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s size and athleticism caused problems for the Blue Raiders on the perimeter and found success against MTSU’s zone defense.
“We really spaced the floor [against] the 1-3-1 press,” Hunter said. “And I was just looking for my shot when the guys kicked it to me in the corner.”
Kyle Guy also scored 15 points, while Braxton Key added a season-high 13 for the Cavaliers. Center Jack Salt returned to action after missing the Coppin State game with back stiffness. The senior finished with four points, four rebounds and one block in 14 minutes of action.
Former Blue Ridge star Mamadi Diakite started in Salt’s usual spot for the second consecutive game and finished with eight points and two rebounds. Guards Ty Jerome and Kihei Clark each chipped in seven points.
The Cavaliers never trailed but didn’t put the game away until midway through the second half. Virginia led 9-0 and 30-9 in the first half, only to see the Blue Raiders claw to within eight points (38-30) early in the second half.
Guy answered with a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run that stretched the lead back out. Middle Tennessee got no closer than 11 again.
Virginia shot 46 percent but finished with a season-high 13 turnovers.
Antonio Green scored 11 points to lead Middle Tennessee (3-2), which shot 39 percent.