Men's basketball wins fourth straight ACC game
Shayok scores career high 19 points
Senior guard London Perrantes became only the fourth player in Virginia basketball history with 1,000 points and 500 assists Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers also won their fourth straight ACC contest, defeating Georgia Tech (11-8, 3-4 ACC), 62-49. Perrantes scored 11 points in the first seven minutes for Virginia (15-3, 5-2 ACC) but then went scoreless for the rest of the matchup.
Part of his slump was due to not forcing anything against a box-and-one defense designed to shut him down. Chuckling, Perrantes said he probably hadn’t faced that since his senior year of high school.
“It was different. I never thought I’d see the day where I got box-and-oned again,” Perrantes said. “I know I have faith in my teammates to get open looks without me. But if somebody tries to do that again, I’ll find a way to be more aggressive.”
Perrantes’ ensuing silence on the offensive end corresponded with a lengthy Cavalier dry spell. Virginia scored just six points from Perrantes’ last three-pointer at 13:14 to the 4:54 mark in the first half, hitting on only 3-of-11 shot attempts from the floor. During that stretch, the Yellow Jackets tallied 16 points behind the exceptional play of freshman guard Josh Okogie.
The Snellville, Ga. native finished with a team-high 14 points. Nine of those came during that near seven-minute struggle for Virginia’s offense, cutting down Georgia Tech’s deficit to a single possession late in the first half.
But in the final four or so minutes before the break, the Cavalier pack-line bottled up the Yellow Jackets and Okogie, holding the former to a mere two points. Sophomore center Jack Salt bodied his defender into a favorable position and converted the baby hook to give Virginia their 35-28 lead at intermission.
Georgia Tech shot 47.8 percent — including 3-of-4 from three-point land — in the first half, while the Cavaliers had great success inside the arc but not much behind it. Settling for the three ball at times, Virginia made only 3-of-14 attempts from downtown over the first 20 minutes. The Cavaliers shot a red-hot 11-of-14 from two-point range.
In the second half, junior guards Marial Shayok and Devon Hall stepped up for Virginia in the scoring absence of senior leader Perrantes. Shayok led all scorers with a career-high 19 points. His pull-up jumper at the 5:56 mark was particularly huge after junior center Ben Lammers’ and-one dunk had cut the Cavalier lead into single digits.
“I have always had the ability to score and to take the shots that come,” Shayok said. “Today, the guys were finding me, so I was catching and shooting it. I knew they were going in.”
Hall contributed 10 points, four assists and four rebounds. He went just 1-of-5 from three-point range, but Hall’s lone three was big, spinning in mid-air as the shot clock expired and making it 51-35 with under 10 minutes remaining.
The younger brother of former Virginia defensive end Mark Hall continues to play at a high level. Hall has averaged 11 points per game over the Cavaliers’ last seven contests.
Virginia’s defense limited the Yellow Jackets to 21 points in the second half and kept two scorers in check. Coach Tony Bennett acknowledged there might have been no bigger story than the job Salt did defensively on Lammers. The Georgia Tech big man entered Saturday’s game averaging a near double double — 14.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Salt played 35 minutes, and though he scored only five points, his effort to disrupt Lammers in the post was important. Lammers totaled only seven points on 3-of-12 shooting.
“I was pretty tired,” Salt said. “I hadn’t played this much in a long time, but I was very happy to be out there and to guard a good player. I was excited for the challenge.”
After Okogie’s impressive first half, the Cavaliers turned up their ball pressure and kept the quick, strong guard from driving to the basket or releasing jumpers. Okogie had only one made free throw and one shot attempt in the final 20 minutes — which he missed — and turned the basketball over two more times to total five.
The Yellow Jackets turned it over 13 times, shooting 45.2 percent overall and 44.4 percent from three for the contest. Virginia didn’t take great care of the ball either, with 11 turnovers after just five at Boston College Wednesday. Perrantes was responsible for four of the giveaways Saturday.
The Cavaliers shot just 5-of-22 from three, but afterwards Bennett felt they were open, rhythm looks that normally would’ve fallen at a higher rate. Freshman guard Kyle Guy and junior forward Isaiah Wilkins added six and five points, respectively. Guy missed on all four of his three-point attempts.
“I know [Guy] hasn’t been as on as he was at the beginning of the year,” Perrantes said. “But everybody goes through those slumps. Every day I tell him he’s a good shooter and to shoot the ball whenever he gets the chance.”
Virginia will travel to Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1 ACC) Tuesday and face the conference’s second best three-point shooting team at nearly 41 percent. The Cavaliers lead the Fighting Irish in that category by less than a single percentage point.