No. 13 Virginia hopes for 'contagious' offense vs. Georgia Tech
The phrase "Virginia offense" is no longer an oxymoron.
After ranking 351st in the nation with 57.0 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting last season, the 13th-ranked Cavaliers are scoring 73.5 points per game and shooting 50.7 percent heading into Saturday night's Atlantic Coast Conference clash with Georgia Tech in Charlottesville, Va.
Virginia (9-2, 5-0 ACC) seized sole possession of first place in the league with an 85-50 rout at then-No. 12 Clemson in its most recent game on Jan. 16. The Cavaliers shot 60.7 percent from the field and 55.6 percent (15 of 27) from 3-point distance against the Tigers, their highest percentages of the season.
"When things are going your way like that, it's very contagious," said Sam Hauser, who made 4 of 5 from deep and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. "Guys coming off the bench and even guys on the floor at the time, once they saw other people making shots, I think it gave them more confidence to shoot and take good shots."
Tomas Woldetensae sank 4 of 6 triples and scored 14 off the bench. Trey Murphy made all three of his long-range shots and added 13 points, and 7-footer Jay Huff had 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers.
It was the sixth time this season UVA has scored 75 or more points, a number it reached only once in 2019-20.
Defense is still the calling card for coach Tony Bennett's Cavaliers, whose only loss in their last nine contests was to No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 26.
Clemson's five starters combined for just 14 points on 21.7 percent shooting (5 of 23). Conference opponents are averaging just 57.0 points on 40.7 percent shooting overall and 29.5 percent from downtown against Virginia.
Georgia Tech (7-3, 3-1) is also coming off a lopsided win against Clemson, now ranked No. 20. The Yellow Jackets showed no rust Wednesday night while extending their winning streak to five with a convincing 83-65 victory over the Tigers in Atlanta.
Michael Devoe scored 22 points and Jordan Usher and Moses Wright added 21 points apiece in Georgia Tech's first game since Jan. 3. Four previous games were postponed due to COVID-related schedule interruptions.
"A lot of guys had fresh legs and were ready to go," Devoe said of the 17-day layoff. "We left it all on the floor."
The Yellow Jackets' numbers against the Tigers were similar to Virginia's, as they shot 57.4 percent from the field and 61.5 percent (16 of 26) from 3-point territory, led by Devoe (6 of 6) and Usher (5 of 8).
The 16 3-pointers were one shy of a school record.
"We shot the daylights out of it," Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said after his team scored the first eight points of the second half to open up a 53-35 lead. Another 10-0 run stretched it to 68-46.
Virginia has won the last six meetings and nine of the last 10. Georgia Tech's last win in Charlottesville was on Jan. 27, 2008.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 21, 2021