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Virginia overcomes sloppy play to escape Georgia Tech, 57-49

Clark hits four threes in the second half to propel the Hoos to victory.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 Virginia at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It wasn’t always pretty, but a win is a win, especially on the road in conference play. The No. 9 Virginia Cavaliers turned the ball over an atrocious 17 times and only got a combined 14 points out of Sam Hauser and Jay Huff, but used a strong second half stretch to come out with a 57-49 victory. Virginia improved to 14-3 on the season, and maintained its stronghold atop the ACC standings at 10-1.

Georgia Tech utilized tenacious defense as they effectively made it impossible for Hauser and Huff to get comfortable or get good looks. Instead, they went under screens and dared Virginia to beat them with the rest of the team. Kihei Clark and Trey Murphy delivered. Murphy finished with a team-high 18 points — 13 of which came in the first half — on 7-for-11 shooting.

Clark, however, was the difference in the game in the second half. He went 4-for-6 from three in the last 20 minutes of the game, finishing with 14 points, six assists, and just one turnover.

As a team, Virginia shot 49% from the field and 35% from three, the latter of which was buoyed by a 5-for-10 mark in the second half. The 17 turnovers led to 17 points for Georgia Tech, but the Virginia defense held the Yellow Jackets to 36% shooting from the field. GT came into the game shooting 39% from three in conference play, but the Jackets went just 4-for-21 (19%) from three on Saturday night.

Murphy scored the first seven points for Virginia as the Hoos jumped out to a 7-2 lead. From there it got ugly for the visiting squad. The Cavaliers went on another significant scoring drought, turning the ball over eight times to four made baskets while allowing GT to go on an 8-0 run.

Beekman ended the drought with a much-needed three, cutting Georgia Tech’s lead to 15-12. A really difficult turn-around jumper from Hauser cut the deficit to one, but GT answered on the other end with a bucket from Alvarado. The two teams traded buckets before the Jackets took a 20-16 lead on an old-fashioned three-point play with 5:02 left in the first half.

Action went back and forth for the remainder of the half as Virginia was unable to make up any ground. The Cavaliers headed into the break trailing 26-20, their lowest offensive output for a half in the season. Huff and Hauser combined to go 1-for-3 for two points over the first 20 minutes as the Hoos turned the ball over 10 times and only had five assists. Murphy was the only one that got going in the first half as he scored 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

Virginia shot 33% from the field and just 20% from two, while the Jackets connected on 32% and 30%, respectively.

Huff got the Hoos off on the right foot in the second half with a jumper, cutting the deficit back to four. Georgia Tech turned it over, and Hauser made them pay with another tough bucket. Clark’s first three of the game gave the Cavaliers their first lead of the game since it was 7-4 with 18 minutes left in the first half.

Virginia pushed its lead to 29-26 with a Beekman layup, but six straight from GT put the Jackets back on top by three. Murphy made it a one-point game with a dunk, but couldn’t retake the lead after a GT turnover. Clark responded to a Wright basket with another three as GT held onto a 36-34 lead with just under 13 mins remaining.

The Cavaliers got it back within one at 39-38, but an Alvarado three pushed the lead to four with 9:28 to play. Clark responded a couple possessions later with a three, keeping Virginia within striking distance. Five straight points from Clark gave the Cavaliers a four point lead, and Murphy made it 51-45 in response to one made free throw by the Jackets.

Woldetensae and Alvarado traded buckets, keeping Virginia’s lead at six as the clock ticked below three minutes. Hauser missed a three, but Huff stayed with the loose ball and slammed it home with emotion before coming up with a huge block at the other end. A Hauser bucket made it 57-49 with :49 to play, and GT couldn’t convert on the other end. The Jackets had to start fouling, well below the threshold to put the Hoos in the bonus.

Virginia was able to do just enough down the stretch to escape with a win and will now focus on hosting North Carolina on Saturday. The game is set to tip at 6pm on ESPN.