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“We owed them one,” Jontel Evans says after leading a strong finish against the Yellow Jackets.
Virginia guard Jontel Evans goes to the basket against Georgia Tech forward Robert Carter Jr. on Sunday.
Associated Press | File February
Virginia’s Mike Tobey, who averaged 6.8 points as a freshman for the Cavaliers, joins coach Tony Bennett in the U19 World Championships.
Monday, February 25, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Here’s the best way to avoid blowing a nine-point lead in the last eight minutes:
Get up by 20 points and there’s a lot more margin for error.
Against a Georgia Tech team that had handed Virginia one of its most frustrating losses of the season, the Cavaliers left nothing to chance with an 82-54 victory Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena.
“Mindset wise, we owed them one,” UVa senior Jontel Evans said. “I felt like we should have beat them down there. I told the guys, ‘Don’t let history repeat itself.’ ”
It helped that the Cavaliers were playing at home, where they have won 15 games in a row and have gone 16-1 overall.
The home winning streak is UVa’s longest since it won 34 consecutive games at University Hall between 1980-83.
Less than a minute had elapsed after the game Sunday when UVa athletic director Craig Littlepage took the microphone, thanked a crowd listed at 12,232 and implored the fans to return Thursday for a 9 p.m. game with sixth-ranked Duke, an 89-68 winner Sunday at Boston College.
“Bring your neighbor, bring your business partner, bring the person who pumps your gas,” said Littlepage, previously a resident of New Jersey, where gas is not self-serve.
The Cavaliers (19-8, 9-5 ACC) are 7-0 in home conference games this season, with five of the victories coming by 14 points or more.
Georgia Tech (14-10, 4-10) led 5-0 and then 7-2 before Virginia went on a 12-0 run. The Cavaliers led 41-29 at the half, only to watch the Yellow Jackets get as close as 45-40 on a Robert Carter Jr. 3-pointer with 14:11 left.
It was shades of the first UVa-Georgia Tech game, won by the Yellow Jackets 66-60 after UVa had taken a nine-point lead into the final eight minutes.
“I thought, when they made their run, we were a little bit lackadaisical on transition defense,” said UVa coach Tony Bennett, referring to Sunday’s affair. “What sparked us, certainly, was Jontel Evans’ play.”
Evans made five of seven shots from the field, tied a career high with eight assists and did not have a turnover.
“That’s a great stat line,” said UVa freshman Justin Anderson, who finished with 11 points, joining three teammates in double figures. “We saw him working on his offense all summer and now [following an injury] its’s starting to click.”
Junior Akil Mitchell hit eight of nine shots from the field and finished with a team-high 16 points, one more than classmate Joe Harris, whose string of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer ended at 16.
Freshman Taylor Barnette came off the bench to score nine points in 14 minutes. The last of his three 3-pointers came immediately before a timeout. Anderson rushed past the center circle to chest-bump him.
Official Doug Sirmons looked as if he was about to reprimand Anderson.
“I can’t remember what he said,” said Anderson, whose excitable personality has been evident since he arrived on UVa’s grounds. “I just remember [assistant] coach [Jason] Williford told the ref he would talk to me.”
The Cavaliers shot 54.2 percent, compared to 44.0 percent for the Yellow Jackets, who were 9 for 26 (34.6 percent) in the second half. UVa’s five turnovers were a season low.
“Again, our turnovers are an Achilles heel,” said Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory, whose team had 17. “Give Tony and that team credit. Over the last six weeks, they’ve been playing just as well, if not better than everybody in this league.”
Freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt, with 12 points, was the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer. Junior center Daniel Miller had 11 points and 11 rebounds, but Evans shut down point guard Mfon Udofia, who finished with four points after scoring 15 in the first game.
The only disappointment for Evans was that he missed out on what would have been a first career double-double.
“I thought I was going to be close,” said Evans, whose afternoon ended with 10 minutes remaining, “but we had a good lead on them, so there was no need for me to go back in the game.”
Six-eleven freshman Mike Tobey, diagnosed with mononucleosis after the first Virginia-Georgia Tech game, played for the first time in three weeks and finished with seven points and four rebounds.
“My first shot was an air ball,” Tobey reminded reporters. “I’d say I was pretty rusty.”
GEORGIA TECH (14-12)
Carter 4-10 0-0 9, Miller 4-9 3-4 11, Udofia 1-5 1-2 4, Georges-Hunt 5-12 0-0 12, Bolden 2-3 0-0 5, Royal 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Poole Jr. 0-1 0-0 0, Morris 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 0-1 0-0 0, Holsey 4-4 0-2 8, Poole 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 22-50 4-8 54.
Anderson 4-9 2-2 11, Mitchell 8-9 2-2 18, Evans 5-7 0-0 10, Jesperson 2-6 1-2 6, Harris 4-10 7-8 15, Browman 0-0 0-0 0, Barnette 3-4 0-0 9, Jones 2-3 0-0 4, Tobey 3-7 0-0 7, Nolte 1-3 0-0 2, Rogers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-59 12-14 82.
Halftime—Virginia 41-29. 3-Point Goals—Georgia Tech 6-17 (Georges-Hunt 2-5, Poole 1-2, Bolden 1-2, Udofia 1-3, Carter 1-4, Reed 0-1), Virginia 6-19 (Barnette 3-4, Tobey 1-1, Anderson 1-2, Jesperson 1-4, Rogers 0-1, Nolte 0-2, Harris 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Georgia Tech 26 (Miller 11), Virginia 29 (Mitchell 8). Assists—Georgia Tech 8 (Georges-Hunt 3), Virginia 15 (Evans 8). Total Fouls—Georgia Tech 16, Virginia 8. Technical—Udofia. A—12,232.
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