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Second-half cold spell dooms No. 4 Virginia at Georgia Tech

Virginia Virginia Tech Basketball

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett watches from the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia Tech, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT


Five days after falling at Virginia Tech No. 4 Virginia lost its second consecutive road game Saturday afternoon, as a second-half cold spell proved to be their undoing.

After erasing an 11-point deficit Tony Bennett’s team went more than four minutes without scoring, and during that period Georgia Tech ripped off an 11-0 run to establish the separation they needed to pull off the upset. Georgia Tech won by the final score of 68-64, and while that 11-0 stretch stands out Virginia had issues on the offensive end of the floor throughout the game.

The Cavaliers shot just 40.4 percent from the field, and while they did manage to score 38 points in the paint Virginia had trouble finding quality looks offensively. Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points but did so on 8-for-20 shooting, and he combined with London Perrantes to shoot 2-for-13 from beyond the arc. With the supporting cast having some issues with consistency, off days from Brogdon, Perrantes and/or Anthony Gill hurt Virginia more than they would in previous years.

Defensively Virginia is still looking for another forward to emerge alongside Gill, with the role played by departed ACC Defensive Player of the Year Darion Atkins yet to be filled. Mike Tobey grabbed a team-high seven rebounds but he isn’t the defender that Atkins was, especially when it comes to ball-screen situations.

Georgia Tech’s Nick Jacobs and Quinton Stephens were able to take advantage of this, scoring 16 points apiece and Stephens hitting two critical three-pointers during the 11-0 run that shifted the game for good. Add in James White grabbing five of Georgia Tech’s 11 offensive rebounds, and the Yellow Jacket front court outplayed their opponents Saturday afternoon.

The good news for Virginia is that three of their next four games are in Charlottesville, beginning with No. 13 Miami Tuesday night. But given the way the Hurricanes like to use ball screens in their offensive system, that matchup is a concerning one. Already two games behind the leaders in the ACC in the loss column, that contest sets up as one of high importance if Virginia is to entertain thoughts of a third straight ACC regular season title.