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Virginia shakes off sluggish opening 20 minutes in 57-49 win at Georgia Tech

jay huff georgia tech
Jay Huff throws down a slam that helped key a second half run for Virginia in its 57-49 win at Georgia Tech. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

The score, 57-49, would tell you that Virginia beat Georgia Tech because defense travels, and, 36 percent shooting, .845 points per possession, sure, adds up.

But the 37-point, 64 percent from the field, 1.233 points per possession second half was the difference.

The ninth-ranked Cavaliers (15-3, 10-1 ACC) couldn’t get out of their own way in the first 20 minutes, shooting 8-of-24 from the floor with 10 turnovers as Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner used 6’0” point guard Jose Alvarado to neutralize 6’8” UVA stretch four Sam Hauser on the perimeter, and Virginia tried, and failed repeatedly, to force the ball into the post to try to take advantage.

The Yellow Jackets (9-7, 5-5 ACC), badly in need of a Q1 win to enhance a shaky NCAA Tournament resume, led 26-20 at the break, but it felt like it could have, and probably should have, been more.

Defense, absolutely, kept UVA in it – Tech shot just 32.1 percent (9-of-28) and 3-of-10 from three.

The ‘Hoos opened the second half on a 9-0 run, but the game was a back-and-forth affair for a long stretch.

A Hauser jumper off a lane cut got it to 44-43 Georgia Tech with six minutes left, and then it was Kihei Clark, serenaded by the small crowd of 1,200 fans in McCamish Pavilion with the “airball!” chant after an ugly miss, who took over.

A Clark jumper, and a Clark three, got UVA up 48-44 at the 4:37 mark.

Kyle Sturdivant went 1-of-2 at the line to get it back to three, ahead of a Trey Murphy III three, and a Tomas Woldetensae backdoor layup.

That one, with 3:15 to go, made it eight, at 53-45, and the margin would never get closer than six thereafter.

Virginia made eight of its last nine from the floor in the final 7:39, three of the makes threes.

Over the same stretch: Georgia Tech got three buckets and a free throw in its last 11 possessions.

Jose Alvarado, who had 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting and eight assists in Georgia Tech’s 64-62 loss in Charlottesville on Jan. 23, had 18 on 7-of-12 shooting and two assists in this one.

The issue was lack of support from his castmates. Jordan Usher had 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but 6’9” center Moses Wright, averaging 16.6 points a game coming in, had just eight, on 4-of-11 shooting, in the loss.

And swingman Michael Devoe, averaging 14.1 points a game coming in, had an awful night – two points, 1-of-10 from the field, 0-of-5 from three.

Murphy led Virginia with 18 points, on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, and 2-of-4 shooting from three.

Clark, he of the “airball!”, had 14, on 5-of-13 shooting, 4-of-8 from three, one of the misses from three being the airball.

Clark also had six assists and a single turnover in 38 minutes.

Hauser, averaging 15.4 points coming in, was held to just eight, but he had a clean stat sheet – 4-of-7 shooting, five assists, one turnover, and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Jay Huff also had a quiet night in the scoring respect – six points on 3-of-5 shooting – but Huff also had nine rebounds and blocked four shots.

After the ugly first half, Virginia shot 16-of-25 from the floor, 5-of-10 from three, in the final 20 minutes.

Team Notes

  • Virginia (14-3, 10-1 ACC) has won 10 or more ACC games for the ninth consecutive season
  • The Cavaliers improved to 5-1 on the road (all in ACC action)
  • UVA outscored Georgia Tech 37-23 in the second half
  • UVA started the second half on a 9-0 run
  • UVA had 10 turnovers in the first half and trailed 26-20
  • The 20 first-half points marked a season low (24 vs. San Francisco)
  • UVA held its third opponent to fewer than 50 points (3-0)

Series Notes

  • Virginia is 45-40 all-time vs. Georgia Tech, including a 15-24 record in Atlanta, in the series that dates back to 1947-48
  • UVA defeated Georgia Tech 64-62 earlier this season
  • The Cavaliers have an eight-game winning streak in the series
  • Virginia is 16-2 in its last 18 games against Georgia Tech, including a 15-2 mark under head coach Tony Bennett

Player Notes

  • Double Figure Scorers: Trey Murphy III (18), Kihei Clark (14)
  • Clark scored all of his 14 points in the second half
  • Clark matched a career high with four 3-pointers
  • Murphy III scored UVA’s first seven points and 13 in the first half
  • Murphy III’s 18 points matched his ACC high
  • Sam Hauser (8 points) had a game-high 10 rebounds
  • Hauser’s first field goal attempt came at 6:37 of the first half
  • Reece Beekman matched a career high with five rebounds
  • Huff (4 blocks) recorded his 12th multi-block game (39th career)
  • Kadin Shedrick (2 minutes) returned to action after missing eight games with an illness

uva georgia tech box

Story by Chris Graham

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