Calvin Baker helped UVa win at Georgia Tech with a late basket for the second straight season.
Another strong performance from freshman Sylven Landesberg , a gut-it-out finish, and several big shots from several different players helped the Virginia men’s basketball team pull out an 88-84 overtime victory at Georgia Tech on Sunday. Among those big shots was a tough lay-up in the final seconds of OT from Calvin Baker, who delivered the game-winner in Atlanta for the second straight season.
The win gave UVa its first overtime road win since 1996, its first road win in an ACC opener since 1994-95, and the first back-to-back victories at Georgia Tech since 1981-82 and 1982-83.
“Probably more than anything else [it was] our resiliency. We swung early, we came to play, we established ourselves in the first half,” Cavalier coach Dave Leitao told the Virginia Sports Network. “Our resiliency got us to the overtime and I thought the guys, especially mentally, came through in that last five minutes.”
Baker’s go-ahead lay-up came shortly after GT tied the game at 86 off of a Landesberg turnover. The Hoos quickly inbounded the ball to Baker with 15 seconds to play and he blew the ball up the court and into the left side of the lane before slithering through some Yellow Jacket defenders for the decisive bucket. Mike Scott, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds, capped the victory with a defensive rebound and two free throws in the final 2 seconds.
Baker recorded 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal in the game.
“Calvin for the second year in a row really played well in this place and played with a lot of confidence, particularly as the game grew older,” Leitao said. “He picked it up defensively. That’s why I didn’t call that timeout with 15 seconds to go. The ball got in his hands and I just told him to go. We had been talking about that all game long, about attacking, and he got into their transition defense, got deep into the paint, and knocked down a lay-up. ”
Of course, Baker certainly wasn’t the only Cavalier hitting big shots. UVa moved Landesberg to a point-forward type of role late in regulation, allowing him to create off the dribble with or without high ball screens. He hit several big baskets and free throws down the stretch of regulation, a trend that continued in overtime. Some of the highlights from Landesberg: a difficult drive-and-score with 26.9 to play in regulation to cut the Tech lead to 72-71, another drive-and-score for a 78-76 OT lead, and a hesitation dribble to set up a tough bank shot while getting fouled with 1:07 left in overtime, a traditional three-point play that gave UVa the 84-82 lead.
The Cavalier freshman finished with 26 points by making 9 of 18 shots and 8 of 9 free throws. Landesberg has scored in double figures nine times in 10 games, including six outings of 20 points or more. He added 6 rebounds and 5 assists as well.
“When I’m at the line, you’ve just got to keep your confidence,” Landesberg told the Virginia Sports Network. “I just think I’m going to make every free throw. I just step to the line with that approach and good things happen.”
Sylven Landesberg poured in 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Landesberg wasn’t just scoring during the stretch run, though. He also set up his teammates with several strong passes. The biggest of those assists came with 14.7 seconds remaining in regulation and Virginia trailing 74-71. The Hoos again gave Landesberg the ball in a point-forward type of role in the middle of the floor. He tried to find room in the paint, but when the Jackets collapsed with him near the free-throw line, he calmly found Jamil Tucker spotting up to his left.
Tucker caught the ball and knocked down the 3-pointer to tie the game at 74-74, which eventually sent the game to overtime. It was Tucker’s second key basket in the final 2 minutes off of a Landesberg assist; he tied the game at 69 after Mustapha Farrakhan (career-high 12 points) gave the Hoos another shot on an offensive rebound that he wrestled away during a loose ball scramble. Tucker made 6 of 7 shots in the game to match his career high of 15 points.
“Jamil’s three – calm, cool, collected off of a role-and-replace,” Leitao said. “The defense was a half second late and allowed him to get that shot off.”
“I’ve just got a lot of trust in my teammates. I know who can do what,” Landesberg said. “I saw Jamil open and basically that was a guarantee. I was just real confident in him. When he knocked it down, it didn’t surprise me.”
While Tucker’s 3-pointer didn’t surprise Landesberg, Virginia’s ACC road win probably surprised a few people. After all, the Hoos were picked to finish 12th in the league in the preseason and they had four losses entering Sunday’s contest. Still, they left Georgia with a 1-0 ACC record and an ever-improving team product starting to emerge.
“It’s a confidence builder, no doubt,” Leitao said. “It gets us to place where I think we can start to build some confidence. [We’re getting] contributions from a lot of people, particularly Mustapha, who hadn’t been playing out of the gate as well, but has picked it up the last couple of weeks. … We’re going to have to get contributions to continue from everybody.”