Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Channel: ACCN | ESPN App
Radio: 93.7 FM | 680 AM | XM 371 | Internet 971 | TuneIn App
Venue: John Paul Jones Arena | Charlottesville, VA
H2H Series: UVA 43 - 39 GT
Betting Odds: UVA -9.5
Both Virginia and Georgia Tech enter tonight’s game having won their last five games but something will have to give when the two square off in primetime at John Paul Jones Arena.
For Georgia Tech, they are coming off of a dominant win against Clemson Wednesday night that few could have predicted after Tech had spent the prior 17 days not playing basketball. It’s been the type of resurgence the Jackets needed after the brutal start to the season in order to put themselves back in the NCAA tournament mix.
Like Tech, UVA’s win streak has been sandwiched around a COVID layoff albeit a much shorter one but unlike Georgia Tech, their five wins have all come against ACC teams. Their last game was also a blowout win over Clemson and their smallest margin of victory over this span has been nine points.
While the Hoos didn’t begin their season as poorly as the Georgia Tech, this is a team that is very much coming in playing their best basketball and has assumed the position as ACC frontrunner. Just how far Tech has come since those opening two losses will be measured against a team that has always been a tough matchup for them.
Before the game we sat down with Caroline Darney of Streaking the Lawn who was kind enough to help us break down the X’s and O’s of this hotly anticipated contest.
FTRS: Uva is 9-1 against non Gonzaga teams. I realize there haven’t been a lot of quality wins on the schedule but you guys have been pretty dominant for the past month. How good is this team?
Caroline: Depending on when you asked me this question, I’d have very different answers. Virginia struggled early this season with turnovers and missed assignments on defense — not ideal for any team, but definitely not what you’ve grown accustomed to with a Bennett coached team — and it led to some rough showings. After the loss to Gonzaga, it looks like Virginia has turned a corner. They’re playing really well in ACC play, and seem like they’re rounding into form. Virginia’s defense has improved immensely, and the offense has so many more weapons (more on that in a minute).
FTRS: I’m used to you guys playing games in the 60s but it seems like you have been scoring a lot more points this season. What’s the biggest reason for that?
Caroline: Way better shooting!!! The addition of Sam Hauser, Trey Murphy, and Reece Beekman has been huge for the way the Virginia offense operates, and the Hoos return Jay Huff and Kihei Clark. Huff has been fantastic in the lane and from deep (42%) and has the 22nd best offensive rating in the country. Last season, a lot of the offense fell to Clark, and he’s not built to carry that much of the load. He’s now thriving as the more pure PG, and having Beekman (a freshman) there to help distribute and run things has been a huge success. The offense finished last season No. 243 on KenPom. They’re currently No. 10. What a difference a year makes.
FTRS: Sam Hauser seems like the inside/outside threat that could really give Georgia Tech trouble. What’s his game like as a player?
Caroline: Hauser got off to a bit of a slow start, but has really hit his stride the past few games. He’s gotten more aggressive taking the ball to the hoop, and he’s hopefully getting closer to his Marquette 3P%. Hauser is just 38% from deep, but he’s been above 40% for his career. His touch is incredible, and you can really see it on some of the fadeaway twos he likes to take. For the season he’s making 60% of his twos, which we’ll take.
Defensively, he’s still a little behind where you’d expect for a Bennett defense, but it’s not for lack of effort. He does well not to foul, and his rebounding is outstanding. He’s No. 1 in the ACC currently with a defensive rebounding rate of 31%, and he’s averaging just shy of a double-double in conference play.
FTRS: Is there a player that those who aren’t as familiar with UVA should look out for?
Caroline: Trey Murphy is quietly putting up an absolutely monster season. An off-season transfer from Rice, no one expected Murphy to be able to play this season. Thanks to the COVID-waivers being handed out by the NCAA, Murphy was granted eligibility the day before the season opener. He’s got length 6-9, which plays well defensively for the Hoos. On offense, he’s a walking bucket. He’s averaging just over 11 points per game, and is shooting a blistering 52% from three (26-of-50). He’s in the top 10 on KenPom in ORtg (No. 7), eFG% (No. 10), and true shooting % (No. 8). I love his game, and he is a key to the Hoos’ success going forward.
FTRS: Who wins and can you give me a score?
Caroline: I’m actually pretty high on this Georgia Tech squad because of all the players that returned and my love for Jose Alvarado. The Yellow Jackets have an experienced team, and they don’t get rattled easily. They love to turn you over (No. 11 in steal%!) so that’s going to be a key to the game. I am going to take Virginia in a tight one, 69-60.
Join us below during the game to discuss the action!
Who will win?
This poll is closed