CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia could ill-afford a slip-up against Georgia Tech Sunday as it tries to build an NCAA Tournament resume, and the Cavaliers delivered, beating the Yellow Jackets 82-54 for their 15th consecutive home win.
Virginia (19-8, 9-5 ACC) lost the first meeting against Georgia Tech 66-60 back on Feb. 3, a game where the Cavaliers led by nine points at halftime before being outscored 38-23 in the second half to let a road win slip away.
The Cavaliers did not repeat their mistake at home, where they are now 16-1, and outscored Georgia Tech 41-25 in the second half to snap a two-game losing skid.
"We know what we need to do to pull away and what we need to do to win games," Virginia forward Akil Mitchell said. "I feel like we really committed to locking them down on the defensive end and getting good shots on offense."
Facing a 12-point halftime deficit, Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-10 ACC) used the 3-ball to get back in the game early in the second half. The Yellow Jackets made three shots from beyond the arc in the first 5:46 of the final period, the last of which from Robert Carter, Jr. that made the score 45-40 with 14:14 to play.
"We came out in the second half with a little more energy," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "I thought the first six minutes of that half and the first three minutes of the game was the only time we played at the level that you need to play at against Virginia."
Virginia answered with a 16-1 spurt that put the game away over the next 4:30 to push the lead to 20 with 9:44 remaining. Freshman Taylor Barnette capped the spurt with a pair of 3s on consecutive possessions that made the score 61-41.
From there, the Cavaliers returned to playing the kind of defense that has been a staple of Virginia coach Tony Bennett's tenure in Charlottesville, limiting Georgia Tech to 14 points in the final 14:16.
"I just thought we were on the edge with our transition defense and really buckling down in terms of getting them off the glass," Bennett said. "That was the main message at halftime is you're going to have to tighten it up even more."
Mitchell had 18 points on 8 of 9 shooting while pulling down eight rebounds to lead Virginia.