Harris scores 26 points in romp over Hokies
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- If Virginia doesn't watch out, it might lose its identity. Notorious for their scrambling, floor-burn defense and numbing, milk-the-clock offense, the Cavaliers have suddenly found another way.
Tuesday in a 73-55 romp over Virginia Tech, Virginia made more beautiful music on offense. With junior Joe Harris working the perimeter for a career-high 26 points and junior Akil Mitchell pounding inside for 17 more, the Cavaliers flashed their new spread-the-floor ways en route to a third straight decisive win before 11,764 at John Paul Jones Arena.
Virginia (18-6, 8-3) used to win by grinding down foes. Recently, however, the Cavaliers are doing it with efficient offense. On Tuesday, point guard Jontel Evans (eight points, seven rebounds, six assists) guided a unit that turned the ball over only seven times.
Evans also held the nation's leading scorer, Erick Green (22 points, five rebounds), without a field goal for the first 17-plus minutes. After missing his first eight shots, Green finally broke through with a 3-pointer. By that time, Tech (11-13, 2-9) was down 43-28. It was a departure from the first meeting, when Green scored a season-high 35 points on 18 shots in a Virginia victory.
"I told all my teammates I'm going to waste all my energy on defense," Evans said. "I want to show people I'm still a good defender and what better chance than to go against one of the better players in the country."
While Green struggled early, Harris was on top of his game, hitting 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions. The 6-foot-6 Harris finished 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and got his career high by taking only 12 shots from the floor. Over the last three games, Harris has scored 69 points while taking 30 shots. Harris credited Evans.
"He's doing a great job of making it easy for guys like me," Harris said. "He does a good job of getting into the lane and creating."
With a driving layup, Evans ignited a 12-0 run late in the first half that put Virginia in command.
Harris followed with a pair of 3-pointers and Mitchell added two more baskets as the Cavaliers took a 33-20 lead that the Hokies never seriously challenged.