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Virginia gets much needed win at Georgia Tech, 63-58

Cavalier big man show out on the road as the Hoos end a three-game skid.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Georgia Tech Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia escaped Atlanta with a much-needed win as Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite powered the Cavaliers to a 63-58 win. With the win, Virginia ended a three game skid and improved to 12-5 (4-3 ACC) for the season. The duo of big men — both of whom were in the starting lineup against GT’s talented bigs — each scored 17 points in the victory.

Huff added a career-high six blocks and two assists to go with his 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Diakite had five turnovers, but nabbed six rebounds and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line.

Braxton Key had an outstanding game with 10 points, six assists, six rebounds, and two steals. He struggled from the free throw line, but wasn’t alone there as the team combined to go 8-for-16 from the charity stripe.

Virginia finished with 12 turnovers, much improved from the last outing against Florida State. Kihei Clark finished with seven points, seven assists, three rebounds, three steals, and just two turnovers, and Tomas Woldetensae also stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, three steals, two assists, and two rebounds.

As a team, the Hoos shot 47% from the field and 31% from three. Georgia Tech shot well (50% from the field, 36% from three), but the Jackets turned the ball over 18 times.

It looked for a minute like the game might have been delayed as the power went out in the McCamish Center, but it all turned back on just before game time.

Huff got Virginia’s first two buckets, both on put-backs after outside misses from his teammates. Both teams turned the ball over early, but Georgia Tech held a 5-4 lead with 16:51 left in the half before a dunk and two free throws from Diakite put the Hoos up by three.

Virginia went nearly three minutes without a bucket, and Alvarado got a layup to go to end a 4:23 drought of their own. Stattmann connected on a three from the corner, but back-to-back buckets from Banks tied the game up at 11 with 11:33 to play.

There was a short delay as power was lost once again, but Woldetensae hit Virginia’s second three once play resumed to put the Hoos back on top. Moses Wright couldn’t get a shot to fall, and Huff finished a slow-moving alley-oop form Clark. Wright hit GT’s second three of the game to cut its deficit to two. The Yellow Jackets tied things up at 16, but Key responded quickly with a jumper to make it 18-16 with 8:13 to play.

Clark’s first bucket of the game — a high arcing layup — gave Virginia a 20-16 advantage and led to a called timeout from Josh Pastner. Huff went 2-for-2 at the line to respond to a jumper from Devoe, keeping the Hoos in front by four. Georgia Tech got away with some basket interference, and cut the lead to two on the ensuing possession with a follow up dunk.

Outstanding ball movement from the Hoos on offense led to another three for Woldetensae and a 25-20 lead with 4:46 to play in the half. Georgia Tech added one point at the free throw line, but Clark added a layup and then grabbed a steal that led to an easy transition dunk for Key for the eight-point lead.

The Jackets would hit another tough jumper, but — after both teams missed shots — Key stroked another silky jumper to put Virginia up 31-23. Wright cut the advantage back to six, but Diakite’s second bucket of the game sent the Hoos into the locker room up 33-25 at the half.

Georgia Tech was hot in the first half, going 61% from the field and 50% from three, but the Yellow Jackets turned it over 13 times. James Banks III led the Jackets with eight first half points, followed by Moses Wright with seven.

Virginia shot 48% from the field and a blistering 3-for-6 (50%) from three in the first half, led by Huff’s eight points. Three players — Key, Diakite, and Woldetensae — each added six points. Despite an early flurry of turnovers, Virginia finished the half with a respectable five turnovers.

The Jackets opened the second half with a miss from three, and Huff pushed Virginia’s lead to 10 with an easy finish at the rim off a nice feed from Clark. GT was awarded an extra possession off of a questionable out of bounds call, and Alvarado made the most of it with a jumper to cut the lead back to eight. Back-to-back steals by the Cavaliers led to points in transition, a 12-point lead, and another Pastner timeout.

Alvarado got one to go to make it a 10-point game once again, but Diakite took advantage of Georgia Tech’s 16th turnover to make it 41-29. Huff’s fourth block of the game led to an easy Diakite dunk as the Hoos kept rolling.

Alvarado made one on from the line, but Diakite had the ball stripped on the next possession with GT cutting the lead to 11. Another Diakite turnover (his fifth) allowed the Jackets to make it a single digit advantage once again. Key easily responded with a floater in the lane, and Huff ended the GT threat with his fifth block.

Parham and Woldetensae traded threes, keeping Virginia in front 48-37 with 12:13 to play. Three straight buckets from GT cut the Cavaliers’ lead to five with just over nine minutes remaining as the Hoos were in the midst of three minute scoring drought. Clark couldn’t get a three to go, and Alvarado made the most of a second opportunity with a three that made it 48-46 with under eight minutes left.

Huff ended a 4:39 scoring drought with a badly needed three, giving Virginia a little bit of breathing room. On the other end, the seven footer blocked his career-high sixth shot of the game. Key got a layup to go to make it a 7-point advantage, but Devoe’s layup kept the pressure on as he made it 53-48.

Virginia had an extended possession as an offensive rebound and a foul by Alvarado kept the Hoos ahead by five with 3:51 left on the clock. Clark missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Diakite came up with a block and Huff was able to hit a jumper to give Virginia a 7-point cushion once again. Banks slammed home a dunk off a nice feed from Alvarado to keep the Jackets close, but Diakite connected on a long two (after a huge offensive rebound by Key).

Key continued Virginia’s struggles at the free throw line by missing another front end, but he got his own rebound and made the smart play to get the ball back for the Hoos. Woldetensae found Huff with a no-look pass for an easy dunk and the 59-52 lead on the ensuing possession.

Alvarado made it a 4-point game with a three with 36 seconds left, but Key missed another free throw. Luckily for the Hoos, GT missed the next three and had to foul again. Diakite made 1-of-2, giving Virginia a slim 5-point lead with 23.7 seconds left to play. Virginia forced a foul as Clark and Diakite teamed up on Alvarado, and Clark pushed the lead to six at the line.

Despite a valiant effort from the Jackets (and some poor free throw shooting from Virginia) the Cavaliers were able to hold on for the much needed victory.

Next up, Virginia welcomes NC State to town on Monday night.