Cavs Sweep Past Georgia Tech 82-54
After the 54-50 loss to Miami last Tuesday, the Virginia men’s basketball made a comeback Sunday afternoon against Georgia Tech, taking the win 82-54. This was their 15th straight home win and brought their record up to 18-8, 8-5.
The Cavaliers are currently ranked fourth in the ACC, with only four regular-season match-ups remaining. Georgia Tech is ranked 10th in the ACC and their season record fell to 14-11, 4-9.
Some might say that Virginia had the home-court advantage and head coach Tony Bennett felt the crowd definitely encouraged the team’s success this season. “You certainly can feel the energy,” he said. “That’s what home court’s all about. It’s nice to see that the crowd’s really rallying behind these guys. It has to make a difference, without a doubt.”
Junior forward Akil Mitchell led the game with 18 points and eight rebounds, shooting 8-of-9 from the field. Junior point guard Joe Harris was not far behind with his 15 points. Harris went 4-for-10 on the field and made a surprising 0-of-5 three-point attempts. Mitchell is ranked third in the ACC for rebounding and Harris is ranked first for three-point field goal percentage (.481) and fourth for overall scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game.
Freshman guard Marcus Georges-Hunt led the Yellow Jackets with 12 points and three assists. Redshirt junior Daniel Miller recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Virginia made 46 points in the paint in this game, 26 in the first half alone, whereas Georgia Tech had only 24 total points in the paint. The Yellow Jackets shot 44 percent from the field, compared to the Cavs’ 54 percent.
With less than seven minutes remaining in the first half, freshman Evan Nolte made a dunk to bring the game to 23-15. Virginia led by 11 points at the half, 41-29. Anderson added another dunk off of a defensive rebound in the second half to create a 30-point margin, 82-52.
Between 14:16 and 7:17 in the second half, Virginia made a 20-3 run to hold a 65-43 lead. Mitchell commented on the offensive charge the team took in second half to secure the win.
“I looked up and we were up by five, but I think [Evans], or someone, made the first basket there and it got us going,” he said. “We know what we need to do to pull away and we know what we need to do to win games and it’s just a matter of doing it. I feel like we really committed to locking them down on the defensive end and taking good shots offensively. “
Virginia freshman Justin Anderson also brought a lot to the game, making three turnovers, four assists and two steals. He was one of four Cavaliers to total in the double-digits, with his 11 total points.
Freshman guard Taylor Barnette made three shots from the arc in less than eight minutes to add nine points and bring the game to 77-52. Senior guard Jontel Evans made eight assists, three rebounds and 10 points in his 28 minutes of play.
Coach Bennett was satisfied with both of these players performances. “What sparked us certainly was [Evans’] play, his ability to get to the rim and make some plays. [Barnette] gave us a nice lift, and did a solid job defensively,” he said. “I just thought we became harder to score against.”
Barnette added some comments about the team’s performance against the Yellow Jackets. “I felt really good out there today. My teammates did really well distributing the ball and setting screens and that helps me out a lot. You just have to let the game come to you. If a shot presents itself, I’m going to take that opportunity and just let it fly,” he said.
Georgia Tech allowed 17 turnovers and head coach Brian Gregory recognized this as one of his team’s weaknesses. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, only allowed five turnovers.
“We shot 54% from the field in the first half,” Gregory said. “Again, our turnovers are an Achilles heel for us. It’s not just at the guards spot; it’s with our big guys. They need to value the possession a little more…Those guys need to understand that need to do a better job of protecting the basketball as well.”
Virginia takes on ACC-foe No. 6 Duke this Thursday at 9 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavs will take on Boston College and Florida State on the road, before returning to play Maryland on March 10.
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