To rebound from a loss to one of the ACC’s worst teams, Virginia will need to beat one of its least favorite opponents.
The 24th-ranked Cavaliers look to get back on track when they host Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Virginia (18-8, 9-4) fell out of a tie atop the ACC standings on Wednesday, getting outscored by 17 points in the second half en route to a 68-60 defeat to a Miami. The Hurricanes, who had lost eight of nine, are tied for 10th in the conference.
The loss dropped the Cavaliers one game behind fifth-ranked North Carolina and into a second-place tie with Virginia Tech. Virginia was held under 40 percent from the field for the third time in four games and committed 17 turnovers.
“I never felt, during the course of the game, comfortable how we did offensively,” said Cavaliers coach Dave Leitao, whose team had won nine of 10. “Miami had the edge, especially in the second half, on how they approached the game mentally.”
Sean Singletary scored a game-high 17 points in the defeat while fellow guard J.R. Reynolds had 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Singletary and Reynolds lead the Cavaliers with 18.4 and 18.2 points per game, respectively.
They hope a return home will lead to a better result. Virginia is 14-1 at John Paul Jones Arena this season, outscoring opponents by an average of 15.2 points. The Cavaliers have won all six conference home games, including a 68-66 overtime victory over then-No. 8 Duke on Feb. 1.
Singletary is averaging 21.4 points at home, a big jump from his 15.6 road mark.
Before hosting Virginia Tech and visiting Wake Forest to close the regular season, the Cavaliers face a tough task against the Yellow Jackets (18-9, 6-7).
Georgia Tech has won 15 of the last 18 meetings, including a 63-54 win in the most recent matchup on Dec. 4, 2005. The Cavaliers shot just 27.5 percent from the floor in that game, missing all 13 3-point attempts.
Virginia, though, did pull out an 82-80 victory over then-No. 15 Georgia Tech in the last meeting at Charlottesville on Feb. 14, 2004.
The Yellow Jackets return to Virginia with momentum, having won five of six games—the only loss came at Duke—since a season-high four-game losing streak.
Georgia Tech is coming off a 75-61 victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday.
“We’re playing more like ourselves. We’re playing hard on defense,” said freshman point guard Javaris Crittenton, who had 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds despite splitting his lip in the opening minutes.
“We’re an overall better team than we were a month ago.”
Crittenton can take much of the credit for that, averaging 20.2 points in six games this month to take over the team lead in scoring at 14.6 per game.
“We’re always better when Javaris plays well, and he’s played well since the first of the year,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. “This kid has led our team. When I hear conversations about rookie of the year and they don’t mention his name, it’s like, am I watching the same season everyone else is watching?”
Thaddeus Young is another freshman making big contributions for Georgia Tech as the second-leading scorer with 13.7 points per game. He scored 17 on 8-of-13 shooting Wednesday to bounce back from his only consecutive single-digit performances of the season.
Georgia Tech is playing its final game on the road, where it is just 1-7.