ATLANTA — Malcolm Brogdon had a wonderful homecoming.
Virginia’s third-year guard, who grew up in an Atlanta suburb, scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the 20th-ranked Cavaliers 64-45 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
“It means a lot (to play well),” Brogdon said after shooting 3-for-12 yet making all seven of his free throws while adding three assists and a steal. “I love playing in front of my family and friends.”
He had about 15 or 20 friends at the game.
The Cavs (19-5, 10-1 ACC) took about 30 minutes to figure out their surroundings, and then held the Yellow Jackets (12-12, 3-8) without a field goal for the final 9:51 while outscoring Georgia Tech 22-1 to secure their seventh consecutive win.
Georgia Tech’s final lead came with 9:52 remaining, when Kammeon Holsey completed a three-point play to push the Yellow Jackets up 44-42.
The game then turned so dramatically that it was hard to remember that Tech sophomore guard Chris Bolden scored 11 of his 13 points while leading the injury-ravaged Yellow Jackets to a 30-29 halftime lead.
After Joe Harris made pair of three throws with 9:31 remaining to tie the score at 44, the injury-ravaged Yellow Jackets played as if somebody opened a trap door beneath them.
They lost 45-41 Tuesday at Clemson with just seven scholarship players. Two more returned to action against Virginia, but leading scorer and guard Trae Golden had no points or assists, and forward Robert Carter Jr. managed but five points and two rebounds. Both came off the bench.
Carter fumbled away a ball to lead to a pair of free throws by Brogdon for a 46-44 Virginia lead with 7:06 remaining. Moments later, Brogdon stole a pass by Georgia Tech center Daniel Miller and went for an uncontested dunk.
Tech called timeout with 6:37, trailing 48-44, and would never tie nor lead again.
“There were two or three turnovers where we didn’t even get shots up,” said Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory. “We weren’t strong enough or tough enough on the offensive end in those last eight minutes . . . the first 33 minutes we did some good things.”
The Yellow Jackets took the lead when Miller spun on the right baseline and banked a shot in for the 30-29 lead at the 2:34 mark. Miller finished with nine points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots.
Virginia failed to score in the final 5:03 of the first half, when Georgia Tech limited the Cavs to 36.7 percent shooting.
The game remained tight for the first 10-plus minutes of the second half before a finish that belied a contest in which there were 13 lead changes and six ties.
From the time Georgia Tech took a 41-37 lead on Carter’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 14:46 remaining, the Cavs outscored the Yellow Jackets 27-4.
“It really was something to see that happen,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of his team’s closing kick. (Tech is) out of sync with the injuries. I thought (Gregory) had them so ready . . . “They had us reeling a little bit early, and I don’t know if when we got a little bit of a lead it changed, but Joe hit a big three in the corner and it just separated.”
A Harris trey made the score 51-44. He and Anthony Gill added 11 points each for Virginia.
The Yellow Jackets missed their final nine shots and final three free throw attempts in a game where they shot 3-for-13 from the line and were out-rebounded 46-25.
Virginia created much of the rebounding disparity with guards Brogdon and freshman London Perrantes (four). The Cavs also had a 27-8 edge in bench points.
“That’s what we try to do,” Brogdon said. “We try to be patient on offense and use 30 to 35 seconds, and . . . we try to wear them down on defense. That’s exactly the way we want to play."