Scott German: Comfortable ride turns into another L for the Ramblin’ Wreck
Seems like Virginia has a pretty good handle on just how to go about beating Georgia Tech. Just let the Yellow Jackets get comfortable, let them drive the car for most of the game, then toward the end of the trip, make them stop and get out and leave them standing on the side of the road.
The Cavaliers and the Yellow Jackets, playing for the second time this season, almost duplicated their matchup on Jan. 23 in Charlottesville. Tonight Virginia came from behind late to again douse the Jackets, 57-49.
In the teams’ first contest, Georgia Tech led by 11 points in the second half only to see the Cavaliers rally late for a 64-62 win.
In the teams’ two games this season Georgia Tech has held the lead for 53 of the 80 total minutes. The Cavaliers are getting comfortable in making their opponent comfortable.
Tech (9-7 overall, 5-5 ACC) watched its 11-game ACC home winning streak come to a sudden end.
Wednesday, Georgia Tech stifled the Virginia offense for most of the game, holding the Cavaliers to 20 first half points and leading 26-20 at the break.
Virginia trailed 44-41 with 6:18 remaining after a jumper by Jose Alvarado.
The Cavaliers then went on a 12-1 run to take a 53-45 lead. The mini-run was fueled by Kihei Clark, who had five points, and a jumper by Sam Hauser, who was held to eight points on the night.
Alvarado carried the load for Tech all game, leading the Yellow Jackets with 18 points and was charged with guarding the almost eight-inch-taller Hauser.
Alvarado was up to the defensive task, blanketing Hauser when he had the ball and often denying him position down low.
Although Hauser finished with a season low in scoring, his jumper at the six-minute mark pulled Virginia to within one at 44-43, and his dunk with 49 seconds remaining sealed the win for UVA.
It was certainly a story of two halves for Clark, who scored all 14 of his points over the game’s final 20 minutes. Clark’s go-ahead basket with 5:26 left put Virginia ahead for good at 45-44. Just over a minute later a three by Clark gave the Wahoos some distance at 48-44.
The second half of this game was a battle between Clark and Alvarado. Both had their moments, two of which came back-to-back.
Alvarado converted a long-range three just inches from the Yellow Jackets bench, giving Georgia Tech a 42-38 lead midway through the second half.
Less than two minutes later, Clark may have made the biggest basket of the game.
With a dwindling shot clock, Clark put up a long three from right of the arc that found nothing but net as the shot-clock buzzer sounded.
The basket appeared to be a dagger to Georgia Tech, who suddenly remembered their last outcome to Virginia.
Sensing that Georgia Tech was apparently once again poised to pull defeat from the jaws of victory, the Cavaliers cranked up the defensive pressure a few notches.
For the night, the Yellow Jackets were just 18-of-50 from the floor, including a woeful 4-of-21 from beyond the arc.
Trey Murphy III led Virginia with 18 points on a solid 7-of-11 shooting effort. Murphy scored 13 of Virginia’s 20 first half points.
Virginia solidified its hold on first place in the ACC, moving to 10-1 in league play and 14-3 overall.
Tonight Virginia won for the eighth straight time over Georgia Tech.
A tough loss for the Yellow Jackets, who were allowed to drive the fancy car around the block a few times, but at the game’s end they were left with the Ramblin’ Wreck.
Story by Scott German