ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech may be on to something with this revamped starting lineup.
The Jackets won their second straight game Wednesday night with a starting five that included forward Clarence Moore and guard T.J. Vines, using an 18-0 first-half run to spark a 68-47 victory over Virginia at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
In a game that, at least momentarily, rekindled the Yellow Jackets' NCAA Tournament hopes, Tech won despite Jason Collier playing only 22 minutes, and they put a dent in Virginia's NCAA hopes.
It was Tech's largest margin of victory in an Atlantic Coast Conference game since Feb. 1, 1996, when they beat Clemson 80-50. It was the fewest points allowed by Tech in league play since holding the Cavs to 46 points in 1985.
"We changed the starting lineup because I couldn't watch tapes any more," said Tech coach Bobby Cremins. "I didn't see fight or toughness. Some people respond positively and some people respond negatively."
Freshman forward Clarence Moore falls in the positive category, leading the Jackets in scoring for the second straight game, netting 15 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.
"When we played Virginia up there and got beat by 20, that was the low point," said Moore, who also notched five steals. "They were all talking, calling me the little man. I had to go prove them wrong."
Collier picked up his third foul at the 12:58 mark in the first half and sat until halftime, and did not score until 9:26 left in the game.
"That was weird," said Cremins. "But the guys did a great job tonight. We just talked about trying to stay loose."
Instead of wilting without their leading scorer, the Jackets thrived. Alvin Jones had perhaps the biggest ACC game of his career, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks, his personal high in league play.
Virginia (15-8 overall, 5-5 ACC) ) shot just 26.7 percent from the field in the first half, leaving the door open for Tech to breathe life into its season.
Roger Mason led Virginia with 18 points.
Going with the most athletic combination he has, Cremins got big dividends in the first half, as the Jackets (11-11, 3-6) ran off 18 straight points for a 29-15 lead, which came at the 4:41 mark when Jason Floyd knocked down two free throws.
But the real key was the lid on the Virginia basket. The Cavaliers missed 13 consecutive shots from the field and four straight free throws over a stretch of more than seven minutes, a scoreless stretch that ended when Travis Watson scored from the lane with 3:16 left before intermission.
Nowhere was Virginia's struggles more apparent than with junior point guard Donald Hand, who fouled out with 3:52 to play having scored a season-low two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
"You can't beat a zone unless you make jump shots," said Virginia coach Pete Gillen. "I think we were a little punchy from four tough games in a row, but Georgia Tech would have beaten us on our best night the way they played tonight."
The key, according to Cremins, was going with a 3-2 zone at the behest
of his assistant coaches. "We just felt that would be effective against their perimeter game," Cremins said.
It was effective on all counts. Virginia shot like a team on its fourth straight road game, converting 26.7 percent of its field-goal attempts, the Cavaliers' worst shooting night of the season by far.
Tech scored the first five points of the second half to build its biggest lead, 39-21 with 19:20 to go, and never allowed the Cavaliers to get closer than nine points.
That came with 6:30 to play, when Keith Friel hit two free throws to pull the Cavs to within 51-42.
But Moore sparked a 16-3 run that put the finishing touches on the win. Now comes the big one -- a home game Saturday against Duke.
"This was just a start," said Jones. "We get a win there, then come talk to me. I'll tell you we're rolling."
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