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The Big Preview: Virginia travels to Atlanta for rematch against Georgia Tech

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 09 Virginia at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Two and a half weeks ago, the Virginia Cavaliers welcomed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to JPJ and escaped with a two-point win. That does not tell the entire story, as Virginia trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half. This was due largely to some hot shooting from Georgia Tech.

This is Jordan Usher, and that’s just poor from Hauser. Too much space for a shooter.

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As that hot shooting cooled off, the Hoos were able to go on a late run to take the lead, led by 11 points from Sam Hauser over six minutes of game time. The Hoos opened up a four point lead, but GT fought back to tie the game. And then Kihei Clark hit the winner.

This was Clark’s only bucket of the game. He was 1 of 10 for the game and scored just those two points. He did have eight assists. Moses Wright is so concerned about Huff rolling to the basket that he doesn’t even try to contest. Of course, if he does contest, Clark probably finds Huff for a big alleyoop.

Speaking of alley-oops to Huff, this one was a thing of beauty and I want everybody to see it again.

Here is our preview from that first matchup.

Much like Virginia’s last game against Pittsburgh, the GT game featured a strong outside shooting display from the Wahoo front court. Hauser and Huff combined to shoot 6 of 8 from downtown in each of those games. That kind of shooting will go a long way towards taking down the Jackets on the road.

Huff is taking this shot more and more as the season has progressed. He’s finding his spots on the perimeter. He is so good inside that the opposition has to put a big guy on him, but most of those guys do not want to guard Huff on the outside. Not only does that put the defender outside of his comfort zone, but it also opens up the middle for Clark and company to get to the rim. Look at that highlight above of Clark’s game winner. Clark gets Bubba Parham off balance, opening up some space. Moses Wright is a great shot blocker, but he’s so afraid of leaving Huff that he won’t go challenge the shot.

The Jackets will go small, with Wright as the only big. That means Sam Hauser is on Usher, and that’s a tough matchup for him. It also allows the Jackets to spread the floor with five-out and take advantage of the Pack Line’s focus on the interior. That is how teams have been successful this year against Virginia’s defense. The Jackets shot 9/15 (60%) on outside shots, but just 15/38 (39.5%) on two pointers as Virginia dominated inside.

By going small, GT can find mismatches on the outside. But that goes both ways, because the Hoos were able to get mismatches on their end as well. GT’s guards are not particularly big. Jose Alvarado (6’0” 180), Bubba Parham (5’10” 160) are small. Virginia has bigger guards who can take advantage.

On this play, Kihei Clark is on the bench, which means Alvarado is on Casey Morsell. He’s just not big or strong enough. The play begins with a drive from Beekman, who has a big size advantage on Parham. Once Morsell starts to drive, Alvarado has to gamble for the steal because he can’t stop Morsell’s drive. And Wright is so concerned about Huff’s outside shooting that he can’t stay inside to contest the shot. Looks for Morsell or Tomas Woldetensae to get some extra run tonight as Tony Bennett looks to find those mismatches on offense.

That offense is likely what will win the game for the Hoos, because the Jackets are not very good defensively, but are dangerous on offense.