By The Sports Xchange
WASHINGTON — Give senior guard Malcolm Brogdon a little help and it makes No. 4 Virginia nearly unstoppable.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Update: When Might Your $1,400 Economic Relief Payment Arrive?
That’s what happened in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals Thursday night, with Brogdon scoring 26 points as the Cavaliers dispatched upstart Georgia Tech 72-52 Thursday night at the Verizon Center.
“We got lifts from everybody, of course,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of the second-half balance. “That was a good sign for us. I thought we stayed pretty sound and tough and did what we did.”
Virginia (25-6) meets the winner of the Virginia Tech-Miami quarterfinal in Friday night’s second semifinal.
If one postseason game is an indicator, the Cavaliers are encouraged that they’re in a good shape.
“I think we’re collectively in a good place,” Bennett said. “These guys are experienced guys right here. I’m thankful for that.”
Brogdon made 10 of 15 shots from the field, including three of six 3-point attempts. He finished two points short of his career high.
Forward Anthony Gill added 12 points for second-seeded Virginia, which reached the ACC tournament semifinals for the third year in a row.
The Cavaliers enjoyed a heavily partisan crowd in pushing their winning streak to four games and avenging a regular-season loss.
“We’re an improved team from the first time,” Brogdon said.
Guard Adam Smith scored 16 points for 10th-seeded Georgia Tech, which won seven of its previous nine games. Smith pumped in four 3-point baskets.
The Yellow Jackets (19-14) sustained their most lopsided loss of the season, with a 17-point November setback to Villanova the previous low point.
Georgia Tech scoring leader Marcus Georges-Hunt was held to seven points, hitting only one of eight field-goal attempts.
“We were trying to make them uncomfortable and make it a tough night for him,” Brogdon said.
Virginia built a 44-32 lead by early in the second half, holding the Yellow Jackets to four points in the first six minutes after halftime. The spread reached 20 points with more than six minutes remaining.READ MORE: Wanted For Homicide, Florida Man Leads Deputies On Chase, Breaks Into Home Before Placed Under Arrest
By the end, center Mike Tobey had nine points and guard London Perrantes supplied eight points.
“I think having that balance, when those other guys can give us a lift, hitting a shot, it makes a big difference,” Bennett said.
The Cavaliers were almost spotless in the second half, playing the first 16 minutes with only one turnover.
“They caused us a lot of problems,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “Down two at the half, I felt pretty good. I thought we had done a pretty good job defensively. … All of a sudden they go on a stretch where they make some shots, then a four-, five-point game is a 13, 15-point game.”
Once other Cavaliers picked up offensive efficiency to aid Brogdon, it was trouble for the Yellow Jackets.
“He plays really well in that offense,” Smith said. “His teammates always know where he is.”
Georgia Tech made only 33.3 percent (8-for-24) of its shots in the second half.
Virginia took a 30-28 lead to the halftime break despite appearing capable of stretching a lead.
“I thought we were able to pick it up soon enough,” Brogdon said.
Brogdon had 14 first-half points, more than twice as many as any other player in the game.
Georgia Tech countered with eight players making the scoring column in the first 20 minutes.
Yet it took Georgia Tech, which advanced to the quarterfinals with Wednesday night’s overtime victory against Clemson, nearly four minutes to score.
It was Virginia that went into an offensive tailspin as the Yellow Jackets built a 16-11 lead.
Georgia Tech, though, scored only six points across a span of nearly the next nine minutes as the Cavaliers surged to a 28-22 lead. Virginia made only one of its last six shots of the first half.MORE NEWS: Florida Man, Family Torches His Impounded Vehicle To Destroy Evidence
NOTES: Virginia senior G Malcolm Brodgon was the first player in ACC history to be named the conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. … Brogdon is Virginia’s first ACC Player of the Year since Ralph Sampson in the early 1980s. … Georgia Tech won the lone regular-season meeting, 68-64, on Jan. 9 in Atlanta. … Each of Georgia Tech’s last seven games prior to Thursday were decided by six points or less. … The last time the ACC tournament was held at the Verizon Center, Georgia Tech reached the 2005 final, losing to Duke.