UVA swats Yellow Jackets, 74-56, as Bennett matches Holland’s win total

By Scott Ratcliffe

Jayden Gardner (Photo: UVA Athletics)

Virginia found itself in a dogfight 18-plus minutes into Saturday’s New Year’s Eve clash at Georgia Tech, but then took control with a 25-0 run that spanned halves en route to an easy 74-56 win to close the calendar year.

The 13th-ranked Cavaliers (10-2, 2-1 ACC) held a slim 27-25 edge just before halftime, and then closed the first half on a 9-0 spurt to create some distance by the break.

The Yellow Jackets (7-6, 0-3) had no answers out of the locker room, as UVA scored 16 unanswered to start the second half and pushed the lead to 52-25 with 14:41 to play, as Kadin Shedrick knocked down two free throws out of the under-16 timeout for the biggest lead of the day.

“We were locked in on defense, not giving [the Jackets] good looks, making them struggle for every shot,” said senior guard Armaan Franklin of the decisive Cavalanche. “And then on the offensive end, we were getting some good looks and knocking down shots, so when we’re able to do that, that’s what happens when you go on a 25-0 run.”

The Wahoos were able to cruise from there, as the Jackets never got any closer than the final margin. Tony Bennett notched his 326th win as UVA coach, matching Terry Holland on the school’s all-time win list.

“It’s never been about trying to get a record,” Bennett humbly admitted after the game, “it’s just, can we influence these guys? And then on the court, can we get them to play as well as they can and see how far it can take us each season? The amount of wins and all that stuff, people make a bigger deal with it than they should, but I just want to certainly honor Coach Holland and his family how I run this program and conduct myself.”

The Cavaliers shot the ball well — 27 for 57 (47 percent) from the field and 10 for 22 (46 percent) from long range — and did a lot of their damage on the defensive end as well. Virginia came away with a season-high 14 steals, the program’s most in a game since 2018, and forced a total of 23 Tech turnovers, turning those into 30 points on the other end.

“Whenever you can get some of those different kinds of points, whether it’s points off turnovers, a steal for two or three layups or transition plays, that’s huge for us,” said Bennett, who is also just five victories away from becoming the 153rd coach in Division-I history to reach the 400-win plateau, unless Saint Louis’ Travis Ford (398 career wins) or Clemson’s Brad Brownell (396) get there first.

Junior Reece Beekman still didn’t look to be quite back at 100 percent as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury, but he started and played 27 minutes, and finished one basket shy of getting all five Cavalier starters in double figures (8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals).

Kihei Clark led the charge with 15 points to go along with 3 steals and a game-high 8 dimes, as the Hoos assisted on 21 of their 27 made buckets. Fellow super senior Jayden Gardner had another solid performance, finishing with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including a ferocious jam on a fast break (set up by a steal and assist from Beekman) with 15:33 to play that doubled up the Jackets, 50-25. He did all of that despite playing only 22 minutes after picking up a pair of early fouls.

Franklin picked up where he left off against UAlbany, knocking down three triples in the first half as part of an all-around performance — 11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a game-high (and career-high) 5 steals.

Shedrick also battled with foul trouble, but still wound up with 11 points (5 for 5 from the foul line), 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal in 17 minutes. Isaac McKneely sank three of his five 3-point attempts on the afternoon, adding 9 points off the bench.

Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly led all scorers with 20 points (5 for 9 from long range), as the Jackets dropped their 10th-straight game against the Hoos dating back to the 2015-16 season.

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • UVA (10-2, 2-1 ACC) has a 10-game winning streak vs. Georgia Tech
  • UVA is 4-1 away from home, including a 2-1 true road record
  • UVA went on a 25-0 run spanning halftime (19-0 to start second stanza)
  • UVA held Georgia Tech scoreless for 8:36 spanning halftime
  • Virginia is 151-11 when scoring at least 70 or more points under Tony Bennett
  • UVA is 7-0 when scoring 70 or more points in 2022-23
  • UVA started 4 of 6 from 3-point range and finished 10 of 22
  • UVA buried 8 of 15 3-pointers en route to a 36-25 lead at the half
  • UVA recorded 12 assists on 13 made field goals in the first half
  • UVA had a season-high 14 steals, most since 16 vs. NC State (2/24/08)
  • UVA is 110-2, including a 4-0 mark in 2022-23, when limiting foes to fewer then 50 points during the Tony Bennett era
  • Bennett-coached teams are 135-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 50 points (25-1 in three years at Washington State)
  • Virginia had 30 points off 23 Georgia Tech turnovers

Bennett Wins Watch

  • Tony Bennett (326-119, 14 seasons) tied Terry Holland (326-173, 16 seasons) for first on the all-time wins list at UVA
  • Bennett (395-152) needs five wins to reach 400 career wins

Series Notes

  • Virginia is 47-40 all-time vs. Georgia Tech, including a 16-24 mark in Atlanta, in the series that dates to 1947-48.
  • The Cavaliers have a 10-game winning streak in the series, including a four-game winning streak at McCamish Pavilion.
  • Virginia is 18-2 in its last 20 games against Georgia Tech, including a 17-2 mark under head coach Tony Bennett.

Player Notes

  • Double Figure Scorers: Kihei Clark (15), Jayden Gardner (14), Armaan Franklin (11), Kadin Shedrick (11)
  • Gardner reached double figures for the 110th time
  • Clark reached double figures for the 59th time
  • Shedrick reached double figures for the 18th time
  • Franklin reached double figures for the 41st time
  • Franklin had a career-high five steals
  • Clark matched a season high with three steals
  • Clark (4,634 minutes) passed North Carolina’s Ed Cota (4,631 from 1997-00) for ninth on the ACC’s Career Minutes Played list.
  • Clark (1,219 points) passed Jimmy Miller (1,218 from 1982-85) for 37th on UVA’s all-time scoring list.
  • Reece Beekman returned to the lineup after missing the UAlbany game due to injury
  • All 12 Cavaliers saw action in the win

Bennett’s first crack at becoming Virginia’s all-time winningest coach comes Tuesday, when the Cavaliers travel to the Steel City to face Pittsburgh — a team that has won nine of its last 10 games — at 9 p.m. on ACC Network.