CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia men’s basketball team had a few highlight-reel moments to choose from in its 62-49 win against Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon. Senior guard London Perrantes became the fourth player in program history to reach 1,000 points and 500 assists in his career. Marial Shayok set a career high as he led the team with 19 points.
But in the locker room afterward, it was Jack Salt, the Cavaliers’ soft-spoken sophomore center, who received a heartfelt round of applause from his teammates.
“We have the utmost — we believed in him,” freshman guard Kyle Guy started, “but I did not see this coming. He just totally shut that kid down.”
“That kid” is Ben Lammers, Georgia Tech’s 6-foot-10 center and leading scorer who averaged 14.9 points (18th in the ACC) and 9.7 rebounds (third in the ACC) and ranked second in the conference with nine double-doubles. The 6-foot-11 Salt held Lammers to a season-low seven points on 3-for-12 shooting and seven rebounds while clocking a career-high 35 minutes.
“He fought his position and showed his strength, and that — that was impressive,” Coach Tony Bennett said of his big man, who also had five points and six rebounds. “I really enjoyed seeing that. I just loved seeing that because I think it was a huge key for us in the game, because [Lammers] can score, and make some plays.”
Said Salt: “I was following coach’s adjustments . . . playing one-on-one with Lammers, and that ended up being a really good adjustment. We really got locked in.”
With Georgia Tech’s leading scorer taken care of, No. 16 Virginia (15-3, 5-2 ACC) cruised to its fourth win in a row since dropping consecutive games against Florida State and Pittsburgh. The Cavaliers shot 45.8 percent from the field behind fluid offense and lock-down defense the team will need over the next two weeks. Virginia will next hit the road to visit No. 15 Notre Dame on Tuesday and then No. 1 Villanova on Jan. 29.
Perrantes joined John Crotty, Sean Singletary and Donald Hand in the exclusive group. Perrantes is also the 47th Cavalier to score 1,000 career points.
“It’s amazing, just being one of those players in that club,” Perrantes said. “I was all about my assists, but now I think the points are going up as well . . . it’s just a testament to who I have on my team as well, all the good players around me.”
That showed Saturday. As Georgia Tech’s defense targeted Perrantes, Shayok was there to pick up the slack.
The junior guard expanded the seven-point edge the Cavaliers had at intermission, scoring nine points in five minutes at the start of the second half. He was Virginia’s only scorer of the half until guard Devon Hall took a free throw with less than 12 minutes left. But the rest of the Cavaliers contributed on defense, holding the Yellow Jackets to seven points in the first 10 minutes after halftime.
Josh Okogie finished with a team-high 14 points for the Yellow Jackets (11-8, 3-4), though he took just one shot after halftime. Justin Moore added 10.
Virginia took its first double-digit lead a little more than six minutes into the game, thanks in part to back-to-back three-pointers from Shayok and Perrantes. Perrantes’s early shooting — he scored all 11 of his points, including two three-pointers, in the first seven minutes — gave Virginia a comfortable enough margin that Bennett rested him and played freshman point guard Ty Jerome for five minutes early.
The gap narrowed later in the half when Virginia went on a nearly three-minute scoring drought and Georgia Tech got within one point. But the Cavaliers were able to stay aggressive on offense thanks to their defense, which held the Yellow Jackets scoreless for the final four minutes heading into intermission.