No. 21 Virginia tops Louisville 68-58 to claim ACC title

Virginia's Sam Hauser, right, drives to the basket during the second half as the Louisville Cardinals took on the Virginia Cavaliers at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday. Virginia pulled away to win the game 68-58. March 6, 2021 (Alton Strupp/Courier Journal, Alton Strupp and Courier Journal)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sam Hauser scored 24 points, Trey Murphy III added 17 and No. 21 Virginia beat Louisville 68-58 to claim the ACC regular season championship. Assured of least a No. 2 seed entering the regular season finale, the Cavaliers received a huge opening for bigger things when first-place and No. 11 Florida State lost 83-73 earlier in the day at Notre Dame.

Virginia then methodically took care of the Cardinals to leapfrog the Seminoles despite a blowout loss at FSU on Feb. 15. David Johnson had 14 points and Jae’Lyn Withers 12 for Louisville, which shot 37% and was beaten 32-22 in the paint.

“It feels great,” said Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.

“I told them before the game, I took this job at Virginia to hopefully have chances at title fights, and we talked about that. I can go back to the regular-season game against Syracuse that first year at John Paul Jones Arena where it was one of the most special atmospheres and games. Conference this year, yeah there’s different things, but we played the majority of our games on the road, all those things. To get it how we did it, I’m so grateful.”

“It was just one of those games where you get a couple to go and the basket kind of opens up and it looks bigger,” said Cavaliers redshirt senior forward Sam Hauser.

“I think I got a couple of good ones, maybe good, easy ones early and I think that just sprung me forward for the rest of the game. I hit some big ones, but overall, it was our defense that won this game.”

“Super excited,” said junior guard Trey Murphy III.

“This is exactly what I came here for, and I wanted to play against the best competition and win championships at the highest level. I’m super excited, super proud of my guys, super proud of the coaching stuff. We really put together a great game. There were stretches where they were making runs, and we just withstood those, and I was really happy about it.”

Radford transfer and former Big South player of the year, Carlik Jones, shot a dismal 0-8 from the field in the first half. The Cavaliers held him to just 6 points for the evening on 2-15 shooting.