CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Only two games into its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, Georgia Tech was winless and feeling the heat.
But now, the heat is on Virginia after Shaun Fein scored 25 points, including a fall-away 3-pointer from about 24 feet with 46.9 seconds to play Tuesday night, as the Yellow Jackets stunned No. 10 Virginia 73-68.
“I knew the shot clock was down to three, two, maybe one,” Fein said of the high arching fadeaway from deep along the right wing, which gave Georgia Tech a 71-65 lead. “I just let it go. It felt good.”
And when it fell, the Yellow Jackets (9-5, 1-2 ACC) were home free.
“It was justice in a lot of ways,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said of the shot, which all but ended his lackluster team’s chances of winning.
“We weren’t sharp, we weren’t excited to play this game, as excited as Georgia Tech was,” Gillen said, shaking his head. “That’s unforgivable. It’s an ACC game. You’ve got to be excited to play an ACC game.”
The victory could prove huge for Georgia Tech, Fein said.
“Tonight we finally put a 40-minute game together. I think everyone fought hard tonight, scratched and clawed and we came out with a win.
“I think we can look at this game as a stepping stone,” he said.
First-year coach Paul Hewitt agreed.
“This wasn’t a must win, but it was pretty close,” Hewitt said.
Virginia (11-2, 1-2), meantime, was left wondering what has gone wrong. The Cavaliers were 10-0 when they entered league play, but lost by 23 to Wake Forest and struggled to beat North Carolina State here Saturday night, then had 23 turnovers and only 20 field goals on Tuesday night.
“I think we might have thought that we were better than we are,” said Roger Mason. “We have to realize that we have to come to play every game. We’re not a team that can just show up and beat ACC teams.”
The Yellow Jackets trailed 62-59 after Chris Williams’ steal and dunk with five minutes left, but Georgia Tech outscored Virginia 14-6 the rest of the way, with Fein’s rainbow 3-pointer the killer.
Halston Lane had given Georgia Tech a 66-65 lead with a 3-pointer, and after a Virginia miss, Alvin Jones was fouled on the next trip downcourt.
Jones fell to the floor in pain, allowing Hewitt to send a substitute shooter to the line. Instead of the sub-60 percent Jones, Hewitt sent Jon Babul, an 87.5 percent shooter, and he made them both to make it 68-65.
After Williams was called for traveling, Fein sealed it.
Lane added 10 points for the Yellow Jackets, who turned the ball over just 14 times and outscored Virginia 25-12 on points off mistakes.
Donald Hand, scoreless Saturday night against North Carolina State, led the Cavaliers with 17 points, Williams had 15 and Travis Watson and Stephane Dondon had 11 each. Virginia hit only 6 of 25 3-pointers.