Georgia Tech and Virginia center Ralph Sampson were initiated into the angst of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tonight. Sampson was held scoreless in the first half and had only four points for the evening, but it was Georgia Tech that was embarrassed, 55-37.

Virginia relied on junior forward Jeff Lamp to open a 10-point halftime lead. The Cavaliers' tough zone defenses silenced the Yellow Jacket offense in the second half.

Lamp led Virginia with 13 points.

"They made us work real hard," said Virginia Coach Terry Holland. "I thought both our guards, Jeff Lamp and Jeff Jones, controlled the game very well for us."

Sampson searched his memory in vain for the last time he scored four points in a game, but was not upset. "It doen't bother me that much," Sampson said. "We won . . . that's all that matters."

Sampson played 23 minutes and made two of seven shots while grabbing six rebounds.

"I don't think Ralph will get too frustrated," and Holland. "He cares about winning."

Four Yellow Jackets fouled out as the team committed 34 fouls.

In the first half, Tech tried controlling the game with a slowdown offense that rarely penetrated. After the first six minutes, the yellow Jackets led, 3-2 and the Virginia sellout crowd of 9,000 was chanting, "BORING, BORING, BORING."

The Cavalier offense couldn't get moving. Halfway through the period, the crowd had seen only two field goals, both of forward Lee Raker. Tech's only field goal was on a goaltending call against Sampson.

With Raker and Sampson on the bench with three and two fouls, respectively, the Cavs looked to Lamp for offense and he responded with eight points to spark a 16-10 Virginia burst. Lamp led the Cavs with 10 points while Brook Steppe, the only real offensive threat for the Yellow Jackets, scored eight. Steppe was the leading scorer in the game with 14.

Sampson scored his four points early in the second half and, combined with the repeated foul shooting of Raker and Jones, the Cavs mounted a 47-27 lead at the 7:43 mark.

Holland predicted that Georgia Tech will "keep the games close" in ACC action this year. "They play real physical. The game was no work of art tonight but our kids did a good job not getting rattled."