WASHINGTON — With its typical stingy defense, plus 26 points from conference player of the year Malcolm Brogdon, No. 4 Virginia moved into the ACC Tournament semifinals by beating Georgia Tech 72-52 on Thursday night.
Right from the get-go, the Cavaliers (25-6) — to the delight of a partisan crowd — made things tough for Georgia Tech (19-14), which started 0 for 4 on field-goal tries, settling for off-balance heaves late in the shot clock. By the end, the Yellow Jackets had 14 turnovers and a shooting percentage of 41 percent.
Still, Georgia Tech did briefly right itself, making six consecutive attempts to go ahead 16-11. That’s when Brogdon started to assert himself, scoring eight points in a row during a mini-run that put his team ahead 28-22 and made the arena sound like a Virginia home game. There was plenty of roaring — and plenty of Cavaliers orange in the stands.
At halftime, Brogdon had 14 points, and the Cavs led 30-28. When he departed to a standing ovation with a little under 3 minutes remaining, it was 70-47.
Georgia Tech is not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but it did average 73.5 points entering the conference tournament — and it did beat Virginia 68-64 on Jan. 9. But the Cavaliers dominated this matchup with the sort of play that allowed it to rank second in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 59.6 per game.
Now Virginia faces No. 11 Miami or Virginia Tech in the semifinals, after a balanced performance with plenty of contributors.
Evan Nolte, a little-used senior who averages 1.6 points, came through with a four-point play, followed soon by a jumper that boosted Virginia to a 49-35 lead.
That margin kept growing. When Brogdon tacked on a 3, it was 52-35 with 11 minutes left. A 3 from London Perrantes made it 56-37. A layup by Brogdon made it 67-45. And so on.
On Wednesday, 10th-seeded Georgia Tech overcame an 18-point hole and defeated Clemson 88-85 in overtime, but that sort of turnaround was never in the offing this time. It didn’t help that Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, Marcus Georges-Hunt, missed a few minutes in the second half when he crashed to the court after rising up to block a shot.
He stayed down for a bit, then shuffled slowly toward the locker room. Georges-Hunt returned to the game, but was not the guy who scored 28 against Clemson, finishing with seven points on 1-of-8 shooting.
OTHER HALF OF THE BRACKET
Defending tourney champ Notre Dame will meet No. 7 North Carolina in the other semifinal. Notre Dame got past Duke 84-79 in overtime, while UNC beat Pittsburgh 88-71.
Georgia Tech: Adam Smith led the Yellow Jackets with 16 points. … A victory would have given Georgia Tech its first 20-win season since 2009-10.
Virginia: Won the ACC Tournament two years ago. … Brogdon is the first in ACC history to win player of the year and defensive player of the year honors in the same season.
Virginia: Plays No. 11 Miami or Virginia Tech on Friday.