Virginia dug itself another early hole on the road, spotting Georgia Tech an 11-point lead midway through the first half.
A defensive tweak by Tony Bennett fueled a 20-5 run that sent UVA into the break up four, and a lengthy stretch of good offense – five makes in a row pushed the lead into double-digits, and a pair of late threes closed things out after a Georgia Tech run in a 75-66 win down in Atlanta on Saturday night.
It was the first true road win of the season for the ‘Hoos (13-5, 4-3 ACC), which not only hadn’t won on an opponent’s home floor, but had lost all four by double-digits – an average of 17.5 points per setback.
That’s how things seemed to be trending early on when Georgia Tech (9-9, 2-5 ACC), which despite its record has wins over Duke and Clemson, and a narrow loss at Duke, on its ledger, got out to a 22-11 lead 10 minutes in.
It was hot shooting from Tech (8-of-14 FG, 4-of-8 3FG), and another slow start from Virginia, which missed nine of its first 14 shots.
The defensive tweak by Bennett shifted Reece Beekman over to Georgia Tech point guard Naithan George, who ignited the early Tech surge with six points (2-of-2 FG, 2-of-2 FT) and two assists, and at least a couple of other hockey assists, penetrating the lane and getting the ball moving to open shooters.
With Beekman checking George, the Yellow Jackets bogged down offensively, missing eight of their last 10 shots from the field in the first half as Virginia finally got things going.
Back-to-back threes by Beekman and Andrew Rohde got the lead to six, and then another pair of threes from Isaac McKneely tied the game, as Virginia closed the half on a 12-0 run to go into the locker room up four, at 33-29.
UVA led by as many as 15, 63-48, on a Jake Groves layup with 7:45 left.
Credit to Georgia Tech, which rallied from nine down in the final two minutes to force OT on Wednesday at Clemson, before winning in two OTs.
The Jackets would claw its way back to five down on the second of a pair of free throws from George with 1:39 to go.
A Groves three at the 1:23 mark got Virginia fans breathing again, and after a Baye Ndongo jumper cut the margin to six, first-year Tech coach Damon Stoudamire decided to play defense instead of fouling, and McKneely made him pay.
iMac, who had a game-high 20 points and connected on 6-of-9 from three, sank his final three of the night from the logo to make it 73-64 with 40 seconds left.
As the announcers have been saying for years, dagger.
Beekman got the assist on that three, his 11th on the night, to go with his 19 points.
Jordan Minor, getting his third consecutive start, came up big again, scoring 11 points in 24 minutes, his second double-digit scoring game of the week.
Ryan Dunn had nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocks – his makes from the field including an early three, though he did miss two late free throws, the second of them airballed.
Virginia shot 50 percent (29-of-58) from the floor and was 11-of-23 (47.8%) from three.
Georgia Tech shot 45.1 percent (23-of-51) overall and was 9-of-27 (33.3%) from three.
George had 15 points and nine assists for Tech; Ndongo had 15 points and five rebounds.