The Virginia Cavaliers lost their second consecutive game for the first time since December 2013, as the Hoos fell at Georgia Tech by a final score of 68-64. Despite fighting back from a double-digit halftime deficit to tie the game at 49, UVA allowed GT to ice the game with an 11-0 run; with the loss, the Hoos dropped to 13-3 (1-2 ACC).
|Getting to the line (FT Rate)
Like in the team's Monday loss against Virginia Tech, UVA's grip on the game began to slip away early. The Yellow Jackets broke an early 7-7 tie with a 12-2 run marked by back-to-back three pointers by Adam Smith and Quinton Stephens.
That was foreshadowing of what was to come, as each would sink four back-breaking three-pointers apiece on the night. Smith, the VT transfer, went 4-4 and Stephen 4-9; nobody else on Georgia Tech made a three, but their efforts were enough, as GT was 8-15 from behind the arc on the game.
Virginia struggled in that department, making just 4 of 18 three-point attempts, including eight misses from Malcolm Brogdon, whose game-high 19 points required 20 shot attempts.
Trailing by 11 at halftime, UVA slowly chipped away. After holding Georgia Tech to just 2 points over an eight minute stretch, the Hoos tied the game at 49-49 on a Marial Shayok three with six minutes to play. From that point, UVA didn't make another field goal until the game was out of hand, while Stephens and Smith combined to drill three consecutive three-pointers.
While UVA's cold shooting and issues defending GT on the perimeter were primary contributors to the defeat, uncharacteristic struggles on the boards continually breathed life into the Yellow Jackets. The end-game statistics, showing a 34.4% OReb%, are a result of some improvement late in the game; early in the second half, GT was rebounding over half of their own misses, leading to 15 second-chance points.
With Malcolm Brogdon struggling and Anthony Gill (11 points) quiet, the Hoos didn't have nearly enough offense to cover for their stars. Tony Bennett played all 11 active players searching for a lineup that would gel, but the entire bench combined to make just three field-goals. The team finished with just 1.00 PPP, only better than its .99 PPP against GW; its 43.9% eFG% was the season's lowest, as was its paltry 21% OReb%. All-around, there just wasn't much to like on offense. At least the previously dormant Shayok started and hit a big three?
The Yellow Jackets are one of the better rebounding teams in the ACC. But they're also nothing to write home about on defense, and are second-worst in the conference in opponent's two-point shooting %. Tony Bennett's teams usually feast against these types of traditional lineups, but didn't get it done today.
Mercifully, UVA heads home to the friendlier confines of JPJ on Tuesday, though they'll face a hot Miami team that sits on the inside of the KenPom top 10. Let's hope that being back in Charlottesville cures all ills for the team. Two icky road losses are one thing, but breaking the aura of JPJ would be another.