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January 24, 2013

Cavs pound the Hokies 74-58

The past six games between Virginia and Virginia Tech had been decided by seven points or less. Last year, the two teams split the season series, each winning by two points on the opposing team's home court. But this time around, Virginia decided to break the trend.

Sparked by Evan Nolte, who scored a career-high 18 points, the Cavaliers surged past the Hokies 74-58 on Thursday night.

Nolte, a freshman, came into the game averaging 6.4 points but hit five 3-pointers for the Cavaliers (13-5, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who entered the matchup ranked last in the ACC in scoring offense (62.1 points per game). Nolte, who hit 6 of 12 from the floor, and Joe Harris combined to hit nine of Virginia's season-high 11 3-pointers, as the Cavaliers shot 51 percent from the floor (26 of 51) and 47.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (11 of 23).

"I shot the ball with a little more confidence," said Nolte, who had scored just 14 points in Virginia's previous three games. "We got some good screens set, and we got the open guy the ball, which is good. I just tried to shoot it with confidence when I got it.

"In the last game (against Florida State), I didn't shoot the ball as well (1 of 6 from the floor). Obviously, I wanted to come in and shoot it better. I think just trying to come in more focused and shoot it with more confidence helped."

Nolte and Harris turned the game around for the Cavaliers in the first half. Virginia trailed 17-10 after a basket by Virginia Tech's Erick Green with 9:20 remaining in the period, but the Cavaliers went on a 24-2 run over the next 7 minutes and never trailed again.

Harris scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half, including nine - on three 3-pointers - during that run, and Nolte scored eight, hitting two 3-pointers and a layup. Virginia hit 9 of 10 shots during that run, including the combined five 3-pointers by Harris and Nolte.

"Obviously, we made some 3s, and we shared the ball when you look at assists to turnovers (21-6)," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "That was important for us. Whether it was Joe, who was hot, or Evan, guys just made some good plays. I know we took a lot of 3s, but Tech was jamming the lane and playing off Jontel (Evans) and some of the other guys. So it was our ability to pin it in and take those (3-pointers). It always looks good when it's going through the basket."

Virginia Tech (11-7, 2-3) trailed by double digits the entire second half. The Hokies cut the lead to 10 on three occasions, the last coming on two Erick Green free throws that made the score 52-42 with 8:40 remaining. But Nolte answered with a 3-pointer with 7:54 left, and Virginia Tech got no closer than 11 the rest of the game.

"They just made shots," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "Nolte made shots and Justin Anderson, who is not a 3-point shooter, made them. We gave Harris too many open looks. We knew he was a 3-point shooter. We gave him way too much space, especially in the first half.

"We just couldn't stop them and get out in transition. They shot 51 percent from the floor. Our transition revolves around our defense. We've got to get stops. If we're taking the ball out all night long, it's going to be a long night."

Green, the nation's leading scorer at 24.6 points per game coming in, paced the Hokies with a career-high 35 points - the most by a player against the Cavaliers since 2006 and the most by an ACC player this season. But no other Virginia Tech player scored in double figures.

Virginia's freshmen players - Nolte, Anderson, Mike Tobey and Teven Jones - combined for 42 points and seven rebounds.



Game Notes:

-- The Cavaliers have won three straight games at Virginia Tech for the first time since winning five straight from 1939-47.

-- The 16-point win vs. Virginia Tech was the largest margin of victory for UVa against the Hokies since a 64-48 win at Blacksburg on Nov. 24, 2000.

-- Virginia led at the half (34-25) for the 11th time overall and for the second time in five ACC games.

--Virginia's eight 3-pointers in the first half marked a season high for a half this season.

-- The last time UVa made 10 3-pointers in a game was March 1, 2011 vs. NC State.

-- Green's 35 points marked the most points by an individual opponent in the Tony Bennett era and most since Duke's J.J. Redick scored 40 on Jan. 28, 2006.

-- Nolte had career highs in points (18), 3-pointers (5) and steals (4).

-- Harris (17 points) tied a season high with four 3-pointers.

-- Tobey (10 points) reached double figures for the fourth time.

-- Anderson had a career-high six assists, reached doubles figures in points (11) for the fourth time, and tied a season high with three steals.

-- Junior forward Akil Mitchell (8 rebounds) led UVa in rebounding for the 13th time this season.


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