Virginia Cavaliers guard Joe Harris drives around Yellow Jackets guard Brandon Reed for a jam in the first half of Sunday’s game.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia could ill-afford a slip-up against Georgia Tech pn Sunday as it tries to build an NCAA Tournament resumé, and the Cavaliers delivered, beating the Yellow Jackets, 82-54, for their 15th consecutive home win.
Virginia (19-8, 9-5 ACC) lost the first meeting against Georgia Tech, 66-60, back on Feb. 3, a game the Cavaliers led by nine points at halftime before being outscored, 38-23, in the second half to let a road win slip away.
The Cavaliers did not repeat their mistake at home, where they are now 16-1, and outscored Georgia Tech, 41-25, in the second half to snap a two-game losing skid.
“We know what we need to do to pull away and what we need to do to win games,” Virginia forward Akil Mitchell said. “I feel like we really committed to locking them down on the defensive end and getting good shots on offense.”
Facing a 12-point halftime deficit, Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-10 ACC) used the 3-ball to get back in the game early in the second half. The Yellow Jackets made three shots from beyond the arc in the first 5:46 of the final period, the last of which was by former Thomasville star Robert Carter, Jr. that made the score 45-40 with 14:14 to play.
“We came out in the second half with a little more energy,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “I thought the first six minutes of that half and the first three minutes of the game was the only time we played at the level that you need to play at against Virginia.”
Virginia answered with a 16-1 spurt that put the game away over the next 4:30 to push the lead to 20 with 9:44 remaining. Freshman Taylor Barnette capped the spurt with a pair of 3s on consecutive possessions that made the score 61-41.
From there, the Cavaliers returned to playing the kind of defense that has been a staple of Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s tenure in Charlottesville, limiting Georgia Tech to 14 points in the final 14:16.
Joe Harris had 15 points for the Cavaliers, and senior point guard Jontel Evans added 10 points, eight assists and no turnovers.
For the game, the Cavaliers turned the ball over just five times compared to 17 for Georgia Tech.
“Our turnovers is the Achilles’ heel for us,” Gregory said. “It has been, and it’s not just at the guard spot. It’s with our big guys. They need to value the possession a little more.”
Marcus Georges-Hunt had 12 points, while Daniel Miller added 11 for the Yellow Jackets.
As a team, Georgia Tech shot 44 percent (22 of 50) from the fiel.
Georgia Tech actually shot 54.2 percent (13 of 24) in the first half, but the Yellow Jackets did not do well taking care of the ball with 10 turnovers and just two assists. Georges-Hunt had a team-high nine points in the first half.
The Yellow Jackets are now 5-34 in ACC road games in the last five seasons..
Virginia Tech 80, Florida State 70: ACC leading scorer Erick Green scored 26 points and the host Hokies ended a nine-game losing streak.
C.J. Barksdale contributed a career-high 17 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, while Robert Brown finished with 11 points for Virginia Tech (12-15, 3-11 ACC).
Okaro White had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Devon Bookert added 14 points and freshman Aaron Thomas tallied 10 points for Florida State (14-13, 6-8).
Green, who is also the nation’s leading scorer entering Sunday at 25.2 points, scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Michael Snaer, who entered Sunday as the leading scorer for Florida State at 14.2 points, finished with eight points on 2-for-9 shooting.