CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia’s Joe Harris scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, as the Cavaliers used a big run at the end of the half to knock off Virginia Tech 73-55 in an ACC game played Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.
With the loss, the Hokies fell to 11-13 overall on the season, 2-9 in the ACC. The Cavaliers moved to 18-6 overall, 8-3 in the ACC, and won for the sixth time in their past seven games.
The Hokies got 22 points from Erick Green, who came into the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 25.3 points per game. But Green only made 4 of 17 from the floor, and the rest of the Hokies weren’t much better, as they shot just 34.6 percent on the evening.
“They played a magnificent game tonight,” Tech coach James Johnson said of the Cavaliers. “And we didn’t play well at all. They had a lot to do with that, and you have to give them credit. It wasn’t just us tonight. They had a lot to do with it. They’re a very good team. They played great defense, and they have a good offense. They’re offensive efficiency is very, very good right now.”
The Hokies stayed competitive for the first 12 minutes and trailed only 21-20 after a basket by Robert Brown with 8:01 remaining. But the Cavaliers closed the half with a 15-3 run – one that included two 3-pointers by Harris and one by Evan Nolte. The Hokies missed eight of their final nine shots in the half and trailed by 13 at halftime.
Green got hot in the second half, scoring 21 points – in fact, he scored 21 of Tech’s 24 points during one stretch. His 3-pointer got the Hokies within 47-36 with 14:37 left to play, but the Cavaliers scored the next five points, and Tech got no closer the rest of the game.
Green went 0 of 7 in the first half and just 4 of 10 in the second half. He got most of his points at the free-throw line, hitting 11 of 13.
“I can’t have a half like that for our team to be in games like this,” Green said of his first half. “I’ve got to be able to pick it up and not have just one point in the first half.
“Nothing changed. It wasn’t their defense. My shots just weren’t falling. I had some great looks. I didn’t feel like they did anything. Nobody stopped me. I just couldn’t get the ball to go in the basket.”
Harris hit 7 of 12 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from the 3-point arc, for the Cavaliers. He also made all seven of his free-throw attempts. Behind him, the Cavaliers shot 44 percent from the floor for the game and 47.4 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Harris is just a heckuva player,” Johnson said. “He re-screens. He’s a heckuva matchup for anybody. He’s tough. He’s really tough. We tried a bigger guy on him (C.J. Barksdale). We tried Jarell (Eddie) on him, and then Robert (Brown) got his shot at him. We tried Marquis (Rankin) on him, and I thought Marquis did the best job, as far as staying close on him and making his shots difficult. But he’s a tough matchup for us.”
Tech will try to snap its seven-game losing streak next Saturday when the Hokies travel to N.C. State. Tip-off for the game is slated for 2 p.m.
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