Muller hits game-winner; Virginia Tech beats Georgia Tech
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams has been known to change dress shirts during halftime of games because of his propensity to sweat during a game, but for the first time this season he switched into a sweater.
The custom-made garment worked as the Hokies won a game decided by three points or less for just the third time this season - out of 10 attempts.
Malik Muller hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left and finished with 17 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 65-63 victory over Georgia Tech on Monday.
Muller was 6 of 8 from the floor, including three 3-pointers as the Hokies (10-14, 2-9 ACC) rallied from a 10-point deficit with a little more than five minutes to go to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Hokies trailed 58-48 after the Yellow Jackets' Chris Bolden converted a three-point play with 5:07 remaining. But Virginia Tech only missed one shot the rest of the game, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 17-5 down the stretch.
Virginia Tech scored on its last eight possessions and hit its last six shots. Muller made the last shot, catching a pass from Jalen Hudson and hitting a 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Hokies a 64-63 advantage with 16.1 seconds to go.
The lead marked Virginia Tech's first of the second half.
''We drew up a play where I was standing in the corner,'' Muller said. ''Jalen could attack the hoop, and I knew that most of the time when I get open, it's because someone is driving baseline and my man is going to help and I'm wide open.
''I was ready for the shot, so it came and I took it.''
Georgia Tech (11-13, 2-10) called a timeout with 12.1 seconds remaining to set up a final play, but Marcus Georges-Hunt's layup was heavily contested, and officials ruled the ball went out of bounds off a Georgia Tech player with less than three seconds left.
''We wanted the ball in Marcus's hands,'' Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. ''He's our go-to guy. He's the one who's got to win the game for us at the end.''
Adam Smith made 1 of 2 free throws with 1.8 seconds to go to give the Hokies a two-point lead. Following a timeout, Georgia Tech did not get a shot attempt off before the final buzzer.
Smith scored 15 points for the Hokies, who shot 52.1 percent from the floor (25 of 48) - their best shooting performance in an ACC game this season. Shane Henry added 10.
Virginia Tech shot 56 percent in the second half (14 of 25).
''Our defense was awful in the second half,'' Gregory said. ''We didn't guard the dribble well. We took away their 3's, but they got to the free-throw line.''
Charles Mitchell led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points. Georges-Hunt had 11, while Bolden and Tadric Jackson each added 10.
Georgia Tech: Second-ranked Virginia beat Georgia Tech by 29 points, but Georgia Tech's nine other conference losses have been by a total of 34 points. . The Yellow Jackets held a 39-27 rebounding advantage against the Hokies and have outrebounded their opponents in 20 of 24 games this season. . Georgia Tech finished the game with 19 offensive rebounds after coming into the game ranked 11th nationally at 14 per game.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are now 3-7 in games decided by three points or less. . The Hokies' five freshmen have played more than 51 percent of the minutes this season, the highest percentage by a freshman class in the ACC. . Devin Wilson did not start for the first time in 13 games.
''The guy that made me that sweater, there is only one in the world,'' Williams said. ''I have a great relationship with him. He's made me stuff in the past. He told me he noticed that I've been changing clothes at halftime, and I told him we couldn't afford air conditioning and that I had to change clothes because I was sweating. He said, `I'm going to make you something.'
Georgia Tech hosts Florida State on Saturday.
Virginia Tech is at Clemson on Saturday.