No. 1 Virginia cruises past Pitt, secures outright ACC title

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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Virginia's players waited until after their win over Pittsburgh to celebrate their outright regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title.

They probably could have started at halftime.

The top-ranked Cavaliers allowed just seven points in the first half, took a 30-7 lead into the break and cruised to their 15th victory in 16 conference games, 66-37 over the hapless Panthers.

"We got off to a good start and we tried to not let up in any way," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

Virginia (26-2, 14-1 ACC) had already clinched at least a share of first place with a home win over Georgia Tech on Wednesday, but they were eager to clinch an outright title.

"It was something that we knew about coming into this game, so it was exciting," forward Isaiah Wilkins said. "It is a good feeling, but there is still a lot of basketball to be played."

With the game and the ACC title essentially wrapped up at the half, Bennett took the opportunity to rest most of his regulars. Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers with 14 points. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

"De'Andre was engaged, and that was a challenge for everybody to be engaged with a heightened sense of focus," Bennett said. "He's been having a really good year. We play him some at the three, some at the four. He's aggressive."

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half. The Cavaliers didn't need big offensive efforts from their regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.