Brogdon’s 19 lead No. 2 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 69-57
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Darion Atkins turned his final home game at Virginia into a display of how far he has come.
The lone scholarship senior on the No. 2 Cavaliers’ roster, Atkins had 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots Saturday as Virginia beat Virginia Tech 69-57. He punctuated his afternoon with two dunks in the final 67 seconds, the first drawing him a technical foul for hanging on the rim, and left to wild applause with 40 seconds left.
”It’s sad,” he said of playing his last game at John Paul Jones Arena, ”but I’m glad I went out in that way.”
He almost took coach Tony Bennett with him in drawing the technical. Bennett thought the officials were going to disallow the dunk, and said, ”I think I kind of lost my cool on that one. I didn’t want that moment to be taken away.”
Atkins, Bennett said, embodies the kind of unselfish, wait-your-turn mentality that makes the Cavaliers work. He’s always been a piece of Bennett’s rotation, but has never had such an integral role for the Cavaliers before this season when he’s become a defensive anchor. The 6-foot-8 Atkins is the only player in the ACC leading his team in blocked shots and steals.
His emotional day in front of a sellout crowd came as Virginia assured itself of at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title. The Cavaliers (27-1, 15-1) started the day with a two-game lead against second-place Duke with three games remaining in the regular season. One more victory will give them back-to-back regular season titles.
Their eighth straight victory also matched the 1981-82 squad for the best start in program history.
Malcolm Brogdon led Virginia with `19 points and eight rebounds, Anthony Gill added 16 points and London Perrantes had 11 in his first game since he sustained a broken nose and concussion six days ago. Perrantes also had six assists.
Virginia led by just 50-46 with 7:32 to play after an 11-2 run by the Hokies (10-19, 2-14). But Brogdon hgave them some breathing room with a 3-pointer and by the time the Hokies scored again, only 3:18 remained and the Cavaliers led by 16.
”I feel like they knocked down every big shot they took,” Hokies freshman guard Ahmed Hill said. ”It was tough coming off of every screen. We contested well in the first half, but in the second half they hit all of their shots. Credit goes to them for that. We kept telling ourselves to just get one stop, but then they would come down and hit a big shot or a dunk.”
Adam Smith scored 19 to lead Virginia Tech. The undermanned Hokies lost their fifth straight overall and their seventh straight in the series. Hill added 10 points for the Hokies and Malik Muller hit all three of his 3-point tries and scored nine.
With the game well in hand in the final minute, Bennett also inserted senior walk-ons Rob Vozenilek and Maleek Frazier, who also were honored before the game. Frazier scored his first career points Wednesday night in a blowout at Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech: Jalen Hudson, who scored a career-high 23 points in the Hokies’ overtime loss to Duke on Wednesday night, played just 14 minutes, took just one shot and did not score.
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ last two regular season games are both on the road – at Syracuse and Louisville.
Perrantes wore a mask to protect his broken nose in the first half, but discarded it after he said it contributred to him re-breaking his nose in the first half. He said he dove for the loose ball, the mask shifted and his nose broke again.
”If it’s broken, there’s no reason to protect a broken nose,” he said.
Virginia Tech hosts Boston College on Monday night.
Virginia plays at Syracuse on Monday night.
Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr