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​Men’s basketball slams Georgia Tech, 57-28

No. 2 Cavaliers hold Yellow Jackets to lowest point total in ACC regular-season history

The Virginia men’s basketball team stung Georgia Tech, 57-28, Thursday night at John Paul Jones Arena. The No. 2 Cavaliers kept the Yellow Jackets to 12 second-half points while holding an opponent to less than 30 overall for the third time this year.

Georgia Tech (9-9, 0-6 ACC) — the ACC’s 15th-place team — posted just two assists against 10 turnovers on the night while making 12 of 49 shots, including going 0-12 from 3-point territory. Virginia (18-0, 6-0 ACC) kept the Yellow Jackets out of the scoring column for periods of more than five minutes in both the first and second halves.

All told, Georgia Tech’s 28-point total stood as the lowest in ACC regular-season history.

“I think we knew how important it was to limit Georgia Tech to one chance,” coach Tony Bennett said after his team held the physical Yellow Jackets to four second-chance points. “We really worked on playing good ball-screen defense and contesting their shots. That combination helped us.”

Virginia held Rutgers to 26 points at the Barclays Center Classic in late November and Harvard to 27 just before Christmas. After Thursday’s game, junior guard Justin Anderson was asked whether the Cavaliers’ latest defensive performance ranked as their best of the year.

“I think at stretches we played really good defense,” Anderson said. “We wanted to make sure that we tried to put our best defensive effort out there tonight, and I think we did a great job doing that.”

Virginia jumped out to an early 9-2 lead on junior forward Anthony Gill’s free throw with 14:25 to play in the first half, but Georgia Tech quickly worked its way back into the game, closing within three points when leading scorer and junior forward Marcus Georges-Hunt scored in the lane about four minutes later.

The Cavaliers then reeled off a 10-0 run to take a 23-10 lead three minutes and 38 seconds before the break. Georgia Tech did not cut the deficit to single digits the rest of the game.

Virginia entered halftime up 28-16 and pushed the lead to 20 points on freshman forward Isaiah Wilkins’ mid-range jump shot with 11:20 remaining in the game. Just more than three minutes later, junior forward Evan Nolte swished a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 48-22 advantage. Nolte entered the game only 6-32 from long range on the year.

All 15 Cavaliers took the court in the win, as Bennett inserted freshman guard B.J. Stith and the “green-machine” group — walk-ons senior guard Rob Vozenilek, sophomore forward Jeff Jones, junior forward Caid Kirven and senior guard Maleek Frazier — with 2:17 to play. Virginia had 10 players in the scoring column, receiving 25 points from its bench.

Anderson said sharing the ball as the Cavaliers did “feels good.”

“Those are our best games because guys are getting into a rhythm and making the extra pass,” Anderson said. “Everyone sees each other open and high-fiving.”

Junior guard Malcolm Brogdon paced Virginia with 13 points on 6-8 shooting from the field. Anderson and Gill followed with seven points apiece.

Anderson, who shot 0-8 from the field Saturday at Boston College, scored all of his points in the first half, two when he drove to his left and got all the way to the rim for a two-handed jam. He later ended his short perimeter drought, knocking down a 3-pointer after sophomore point guard London Perrantes set him up three minutes 48 seconds before the break.

Wilkins, meanwhile, continued to play meaningful minutes off the bench, scoring five points in 13 minutes of court time. After sinking a 3-pointer with 9:02 left in the first half, he is 2-2 from distance on the year.

“My role is to come in and bring a lot of energy, especially on defense — also to hit open shots,” Wilkins said. “I just try to pick up the energy when we are feeling sluggish.”

Bennett started junior center Mike Tobey alongside senior forward Darion Atkins in the front court after pairing Atkins and Gill and bringing Tobey off the bench for much of the season. Bennett said any combination of the three post players could start any given game, and that his decision is “based on matchups.”

Georgia Tech, for example, featured an imposing front line in junior forward Charles Mitchell and senior center Demarco Cox.

“I told those guys that they are three starters,” Bennett said. “I like having Darion in there to give us a defensive spark and some mobility. With the size of Georgia Tech, I started Mike. … They’re all going to play and give us lifts.”

Virginia plays Virginia Tech this Sunday in Blacksburg. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“It’s going to be fun — obviously, playing at Virginia Tech,” freshman guard Marial Shayok said. “Playing anywhere in the ACC’s pretty much fun for me.”

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