The No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers returned home — with a shiny new ranking and coming off two road wins over ranked teams — and wasted no time taking down the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 81-51. With the win, Virginia moves to 25-2 on the season and keeps pace with North Carolina at 13-2 atop the ACC standings. Georgia Tech falls to 12-17 (4-12 ACC).
Ty Jerome led the Hoos with 19 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. DeAndre Hunter added 18 points, and Kyle Guy rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points. Kihei Clark had an outstanding game with eight points on 3-for-3 shooting, three rebounds, six assists, and no turnovers in 29 minutes of action.
As a team, the Hoos shot 56% (53% 3PT) and assisted 17 of their 30 made baskets.
Defensively, Virginia held Georgia Tech to 38% shooting (29% from three), and forced 13 turnovers that led to 15 points for the Hoos. Jose Alvarado led the Yellow Jackets with 12 points.
Hunter got things starting with a three pointer from the corner on the first possession of the game, but back-to-back buckets from Devoe and Sjolund gave the Yellow Jackets a one-point lead. Virginia retook the lead momentarily before an Alvarado layup gave put GT up 6-5. The Hoos came up empty on their next two trips down the court, but Hunter gave the lead back to Virginia with two free throws.
A jumper from James Banks and a three from Sjolund put the Jackets up by four, but Braxton Key connected on a three to make it 11-10 GT with 14:39 left in the first half. Virginia wasted no time getting the lead back as Kihei Clark found Hunter for an easy dunk with a foul, giving the Hoos a two-point lead after the conversion at the line.
After a two defensive stops — sandwiched by an easy rebound opportunity that went out of bounds off the Hoos — Hunter added to the lead with another easy dunk. A three from Guy on Virginia’s next possession put the home team up 18-11 with 12:31 to play in the first and forced Josh Pastner to call a timeout.
Banks cut into the lead with a two-pointer, but Guy’s second three of the first half gave Virginia a 21-13 advantage. Jack Salt kept the ball alive twice — once on the defensive end and with a diving tip out on offense — to extend the possession and get Guy the good look at the basket.
Pastner switched from a zone to man-to-man, but it made no difference to the Hoos as Jerome found Jay Huff for an easy dunk and the 10-point lead. The two squads traded buckets before Jerome buried a three to give Virginia a 28-15 lead with 8:07 remaining in the first half.
Virginia doubled up Georgia Tech, 30-15, with a baseline drive from Jerome, then built the lead to 17 after a strong defensive stand from Diakite that led to a Hunter jumper. Banks ended a 3:10 scoring drought for the Jackets, converting the layup and the ensuing free throw to cut into Virginia’s lead slightly.
Two made buckets by Jerome and a tip-in by Huff (sandwiched around a layup from Alvarado) put the Hoos up comfortably at 38-20 with 3:05 left in the first half. A three ball from Clark and a jumper from Wright sent Virginia into the halftime break with a 19-point lead at 41-22.
The Hoos shot 53% from the field and 55% from three in the first half and assisted nine of their 16 made field goals. Hunter led with 14 points, with Jerome adding nine points and two rebounds. Clark dished out four first half assists with no turnovers, pulled down two rebounds, and made the only shot he attempted (a three) in 13 minutes of action.
Georgia Tech started out hot, but cooled off over the first half as they shot 31% from the field and 14% from three. Banks led the Yellow Jackets in the first half with nine points. GT had just four turnovers, but Virginia turned them into 10 points.
Jerome’s leaning floater with 18:29 to play was the first bucket for either team in the second half and gave Virginia a 21-point advantage. Wright scored for the Yellow Jackets, but Guy connected on his third three-pointer of the game to extend Virginia’s lead further. A miss by GT on the other end gave the ball right back to the Hoos, and an easy layup from Hunter doubled up the Jackets once again.
Virginia built its lead to 27 points at the under-16 timeout thanks to Clark’s second three of the game, assisted by Jerome. The two squads traded buckets for a two-minute stretch before Virginia turned the ball over (its first of the second half). Abdoulaye Gueye’s back-to-back buckets cut Virginia’s lead to 54-32, but Hunter stayed true at the free throw line to make it a 24-point game once again.
Clark drove the lane and kissed it off the glass for his first two-pointer of the game, and GT’s Evan Cole responded with one free throw make at the line. A live-ball turnover at mid-court gave Alvarado an easy steal and score.
Jerome’s fourth assist of the night led to a dunk by Diakite, and Key’s second three of the game put the Hoos up 63-35 with 10:27 to play. Devoe somehow got a shot to go over the outstretched arm of Diakite, earning a groan of approval from the crowd. Guy missed a three on Virginia’s next possession, and Devoe canned a three to bring the Jackets back within 23.
Jerome hit back-to-back floaters before Alvarado got back-to-back threes — the latter of which came on a broken play — making it 67-46 with 7:18 remaining. One free throw from Jerome, an easy layup for Diakite, and one free throw from Key gave the Hoos a 25-point advantage before another three from Devoe.
Virginia got three more points at the free throw line and the defense stood strong as they forced back-to-back turnovers. Marco Anthony put an exclamation point on the affair with dunk, igniting the bench and the crowd. After a GT miss, Clark found Huff for a monster dunk before being subbed out with 2:09 remaining. Huff would dunk once more — this one a reverse — to give Virginia the 30-point win.
Next up, Virginia hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday at 2pm.