Cavs Cruise To 15th Straight JPJ Win

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Jontel Evans helped UVa win with 8 assists and 0 turnovers.

Virginia had no interest in deja vu on Sunday against Georgia Tech.

UVa established a lead against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta earlier this month before a late offensive drought helped spark a GT win. In the rematch Sunday at the John Paul Jones Arena, the Cavaliers again surged ahead before the visitors closed the margin to five with 14 minutes to play. There would be no scoring shortage this time, however, as the Hoos closed on a 37-14 run to convincingly win 82-54.

The Cavaliers (19-8, 9-5 ACC) have won 15 straight games at JPJ.

“We said don’t let history repeat itself,” UVa senior guard Jontel Evans said. “Guys locked in and were able to go out there and finish the game strong.”

Virginia forward Akil Mitchell played a key role in the second-half burst to annihilate Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-10 ACC). Mitchell finished with 18 points (that’s a new career high in ACC play) on 8-of-9 shooting. While he did have a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting in Atlanta, the junior felt like several misses close to the basket in the final 10 minutes of that game contributed to the Cavs’ collapse. He wanted to make sure that a similar situation didn’t happen in Charlottesville where he also added 8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal to his line.

Virginia’s Akil Mitchell poured in 18 points.

During the 20-3 run that followed Tech’s push to make it 45-40, Mitchell made a pair of free throws, a lay-up, and a jumper. He added an emphatic tip-dunk moments later as well.

“I looked up and we were up by five, but I think Jontel, or someone, made the first basket there and it got us going. We know what we need to do to pull away and we know what we need to do to win games and it’s just a matter of doing it,” Mitchell said. “I feel like we really committed to locking them down on the defensive end and taking good shots offensively.”

Mitchell wasn’t alone when it came to offensive success during that run or overall against Georgia Tech. Evans put together an outstanding afternoon with 10 points, 8 assists, and 0 turnovers to set the tone for the Hoos. He also kept the tempo at a favorable place when the Yellow Jackets attempted to apply some fullcourt zone pressure in an effort to break the hosts’ preferred rhythm. Evans had 2 lay-ups and 2 assists during the 20-3 spurt. He matched an ACC career-high with the 8 helpers.

Joining that duo in double figures were Joe Harris , who had 15 points behind a 7-of-8 showing at the free throw line, and Justin Anderson , who added 11 points and 4 assists. The Hoos got a boost from the return of Mike Tobey as well. He had not played over the last five games due to mononucleosis. Tobey notched 7 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes.

“He wasn’t bashful when he got his hands on the ball,” Bennett said with a grin. “Mike’s got a scoring mentality. It was good. I can hear my dad’s words in my ear, saying ‘get some lead in your pencil’ whenever I shoot and I leave it on the front of the rim. I think he looked a little leg-wearier, and needed a little more energy. I thought those were good minutes for him, good action. There’s a pace and a timing when you’re in a game that’s a little different than practice, and he’s only had two practices.”

The Cavaliers also picked up 9 points from Taylor Barnette, who knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in the middle of the decisive 20-3 spurt. After the second one, Barnette gave a 3-point salute as a shout-out to a friend, a fist pump, and then met Anderson at halfcourt with a flying hip bump after Georgia Tech called for a timeout.

“I was really excited. The atmosphere was great. My teammates were excited and when Justin’s running at me, I’ve got to jump or something,” Barnette said with a laugh.

The Cavaliers certainly will be excited this Thursday as well. That’s because Duke, who entered Sunday’s 89-61 win against Boston College with the nation’s No. 6 ranking, heads to Charlottesville for a showdown between two of the top four teams in the ACC’s current standings. That game is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Final Stats

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