UVA outlasts Georgia Tech 57-49 in Atlanta
‘Hoos maintain grip on first place in the ACC
ATLANTA (AP) — When Kihei Clark failed to touch iron on a 3-pointer nearing the midway point of the second half, the Georgia Tech student section let him have it.
“Air ball! Air ball! Air ball!” the small but vocal crowd chanted over and over.
Clark wasn’t fazed. He kept on shooting — and got the last laugh.
Trey Murphy III scored 18 points and Clark added 14 — all in the second half — as No. 9 Virginia pulled away from Georgia Tech down the stretch for a 57-49 victory on Wednesday night.
With the Yellow Jackets focused on shutting down Virginia’s top scorers, Sam Hauser and Jay Huff, Clark and Murphy had to step up.
Even after Clark threw up that air ball from long range, coach Tony Bennett told him to keep shooting.
“They were hugging up on Sam and Jay,” Clark said. “They weren’t really getting open looks, so I’ve got to make my shots.”
The Cavaliers (14-3, 10-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished on a 16-5 run in a game that was tight most of the way.
Georgia Tech (9-7, 5-5) lost to Virginia for the second time this season and missed a chance to give its postseason resume a big boost.
A dismal 4-of-21 shooting performance from 3-point range doomed the Yellow Jackets, who came into the game ranked fourth in the ACC in that category (37.0%).
“I felt like we got some really good looks, but we need guys to make ‘em,” coach Josh Pastner said. “We rely on our 3-point shooting. We’re not a smashmouth team offensively.”
The Yellow Jackets led 44-41 with 6:18 remaining after Jose Alvarado hit a jumper, but the Cavaliers dominated the rest of the way.
Clark had as many 3s as Georgia Tech’s entire team, finishing 4 of 8 beyond the arc. Murphy also had a big trey in the closing minutes as Virginia missed only one of its final nine shots.
After playing many of its games in empty arenas, Murphy was excited to have any sort of crowd — even a socially distanced gathering of 1,200 at 8,600-seat McCamish Pavilion.
“I like it when people are yelling at me, talking trash to me,” he said. “I’ve missed that this year.”
Alvarado scored 18 points to lead Georgia Tech, which was held to 18-of-50 (36%) shooting overall.
In the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 23, Georgia Tech squandered an 11-point lead and missed a chance to win at the buzzer with a 3. Virginia held on for a 64-62 victory.
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