Mustapha Farrakhan led the Hoos with 17 points at GT.
Virginia may consider asking all of the schools in the ACC to add “Tech” to their names after the past few days. After all, the UVa men’s basketball team finished off a 4-0 sweep of Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech this season with a 62-56 win against the Yellow Jackets on Wednesday night. The back-to-back Tech triumphs gave the Hoos consecutive victories for the first time since the first week of 2011.
The Cavaliers, needless to say, were happy to pick up another ACC victory. The Hoos stand at 14-13 on the season and 5-8 in the league; they have won three straight games at GT and 5 of the last 6 meetings between the two clubs.
“Hard-fought win, the guys made enough big shots down the stretch and came up with some rebounds to come away with a good victory for us,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “I thought we started the game out flat. Defensively, we did not have the kind of ball pressure and the ability to keep people off of the glass and pursue rebounds. We were stretched out. I thought we were at times impatient early and I did not like how the game was going but then we reeled it in I think the last five minutes of the first half and then had a solid second half.”
Indeed, the Cavaliers stumbled a bit in the opening half and trailed by as many as nine points before they climbed within two points at intermission. Virginia battled to take the lead in the early stages of the second half as well, but Georgia Tech responded and eventually built a 44-40 lead when Lance Storrs converted an offensive rebound into points. That play gave GT its 11th second chance point of the game as the hosts grabbed 13 offensive rebounds en route to a 40-27 edge on the glass.
Storrs’ second chance points were the last of the offensive rebound variety for the Yellow Jackets in the game, though. It also marked Tech’s final two-possession lead of the game. That’s because it was all UVa down the stretch. The Cavaliers uncorked a 15-2 run to erase the four-point margin and storm ahead 55-46 with two minutes to play. The scoring surge featured a collective effort:
- Jontel Evans scored on a lay-up and Akil Mitchell made a free throw.
- Sammy Zeglinski tied the game at 46 with a 3-pointer just before the 6:00 mark.
- Mustapha Farrakhan made two free throws and a 3-pointer (courtesy of an Evans’ assist as he stumbled in the lane); he also came up with a huge steal that led to a Zeglinski lay-up.
- Assane Sene score on a lay-up as well when Evans drove the paint and delivered the drop-off assist
That key run with multiple contributors mirrored the Cavaliers’ effort from the entire evening. After all, five different Hoos scored at least 8 points in the win. Farrakhan led all scorers with 17 points, the 20th time this season he tallied double figures in that column; he tied a career high with 9 made free throws. Joe Harris joined his teammate in double figures with 11 points and added 7 rebounds to boot. Evans and Sene each chipped in 9 points; Evans contributed 7 assists (1 turnover) and 2 steals as well while Sene recorded 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks to the cause. Zeglinski also had 8 points.
Bennett is pleased with his team’s persistence with the process this season.
“I think the guys have showed resiliency,” Bennett said in The Daily Progress. “It’s not anything to blow you away – but they’ve hung [in there], they’ve been in games, lost some heartbreakers but have kept bouncing back and kept coming. … I told them, ‘This is a big game for you. You had a nice win against Virginia Tech. Are you just going to go back to the status quo and not fight like crazy? Can you do something? Can you make a statement on the road?'”
The Cavaliers did just that, winning just their third road game of the season, with two of those coming at the ACC’s Techs. That’s definitely not status quo. They’ll try to keep the success rolling this weekend when Boston College visits the John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday at noon.