For just over 30 minutes this afternoon, nothing seemed to be going right for the Hoos. Georgia Tech had battled toe-to-toe throughout, grabbing a 44-42 lead on an "and-one" with just under 10 minutes to play. A short while later, the final buzzer sounded, and the Wahoo walk-ons stepped off the court to head home after a 64-45 victory. After a slow start, Virginia played excellent basketball down the stretch to win their 7th straight and improve to 10-1 in ACC play, while Georgia Tech fell to 3-8.
For those 30 minutes, Georgia Tech took advantage of red-hot three-point shooting and a sputtering UVA offense to hang in the game, leading by as many as 4 points in the second half. The Yellow Jackets have made 31% of their 3s this year (306th in the nation), but couldn't miss early on, making 6 of their first 10 shots from long range. Chris Bolden, who entered at 29%, went 3-6 but made 3 of 4 in the first half including a heavily contested, deep, fade-away jumper as the shot clock expired. UVA trailed at halftime, as the offense failed to get anything going against a stingy GT defense.
However, Virginia finished the game playing 10 of their best minutes of the season. The bucket that gave the Jackets a lead with 9:52 to play would be their final field goal of the game. In fact, GT scored just one more point over the stretch. The three-pointers stopped falling, as the team missed their final 5, and a relentless Wahoo defense smothered Georgia Tech on the interior. GT made just 35% of their two-pointers, despite an inspired effort from Daniel Miller (4-9, 9 points).
Offensively, Virginia finished with an eFG% of 44%, just barely edging GT's 43% (both teams shot better on 3s than 2s). However, UVA dominated the other phases of the game. The Hoos once again crushed their opponents on the glass, pulling down 85% of Georgia Tech's misses, while the Yellow Jackets got defensive rebounds on just 59% of Virginia's missed shots. And the Hoos took care of the ball, turning it over 10 times. London Perrantes has 26 assists and just 3 TOs in his last 6 games, and he turned in another turnover-free performance today. Justin Anderson has caught the turnover bug, losing the ball 3 times today and 13 times in the last 5 games.
Malcolm Brogdon led the team once again with 14 points, but forced too many low-percentage attempts, as he shot just 3 of 14 from the field. He did notch a second consecutive double-double, pulling down a career best 11 rebounds. Anothony Gill really keyed the offense, as he scored 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting, and Joe Harris had 11 more, shooting 3 of 8 from the field, with all of his makes from behind the arc.
Akil Mitchell continues to be a force on both sides of the court, finishing with 8 points and 8 boards. Justin Anderson and Darion Atkins each added 8 more, giving the Hoos a nice boost off the bench. Particularly notably, Atkins made all 4 of his free-throw attempts, and the team finished 17-19 from the line on the game (including a 7-7 showing from Brogdon). Maybe the team's free-throw woes are cured?
After what looked like a potential breakout performance at Notre Dame (14 points, 7-10 shooting), Mike Tobey struggled once again, shooting 1 of 6 from the field. His passive defensive rebounding has been brutal - in 7 of the team's 11 games, Tobey has zero or one defensive rebound. The seven-footer must be more active, or he'll find himself getting beaten out by Gill, who has been more efficient on offense and improving on defense.
Road wins are hard, and UVA now has 5 of them in ACC play, all but one by double-digits. Today, the team hung around when things weren't going their way, then had the ability to really turn it on late.
The Hoos have to feel good about their strong finish tonight, and have a quick turnaround before they look to keep it going against Maryland on Monday. The Terps are 5-5 in ACC play (and are currently underway against FSU), with their only road wins coming at Virginia Tech and Boston College. That game was originally scheduled to be ESPN's "Big Monday" showcase, but Barack Obama's visit to Monticello caused a timeslot change. The game will tip-off at 9 PM and will be broadcast by ESPNU.