|No. 1 Virginia aims to lock up No. 1 seed vs. Georgie Tech|
With two weeks remaining in the ACC's regular season, No. 1 Virginia has set itself apart from the rest of the pack.
So much in fact, that the Cavaliers can lock up the top seed for next month's conference tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a victory Wednesday night over reeling Georgia Tech.
Virginia (24-2, 13-1 ACC) returns to action after a much-needed week off that allowed some nagging injuries to heal, players to receive a late-season rest and sophomore guard Kyle Guy to get engaged.
Guy's shooting numbers have declined during ACC play but the sharpshooter is still just shy of 40 percent on the season from the 3-point line and leads the Cavaliers in scoring at 15.2 points per game.
"We tried to use the week off to heal up and prepare the right way," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said Monday. "I think the break came at just the right time for us. Everyone got the chance to refresh their bodies and then get back to preparing for Georgia Tech."
Georgia Tech (11-16, 4-10) has fallen on hard times recently, losing five straight and nine of their last 10 games after a 3-1 start in conference play.
The Yellow Jackets' most recent defeat came at the hands of Virginia Tech on Saturday where the Hokies led by as many 30 points in the second half before cruising to a 76-56 victory. Playing short-handed, senior guard Tadric Jackson knows the Jackets can't blame the injury bug.
"We've got to get better in practice every day," Jackson said after the loss to the Hokies. "The guys that got hurt -- we can't do nothing about that. That's life, it happens. As a whole, we have to get better."
Point guard Jose Alvarado was lost to a season-ending elbow injury against Duke on Feb. 11, and senior Ben Lammers has not been the Lammers of last year this season while playing on an injured ankle.
"Obviously we've had other things to deal with," Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. "More than that though, the injury bug has really hurt us. If I had to do it over again, I probably should have sat Ben (Lammers) for two or three weeks when he injured his ankle and let him get fairly healthy."
Lammers is averaging 11.0 points and 8.4 rebounds this season.
Short-handed or not, the Yellow Jackets' season must continue and in a tough way.
Virginia dispatched Georgia Tech in Atlanta by 16 in January and is not showing any signs of slowing down while holding a three-game lead in the conference standings.
"It would be terrific," Bennett said when asked about the chance to clinch the top seed in the ACC Tournament with a win over the Jackets. "With this league and the number of games, it's a tremendous thing to do and to have the chance to do so at this stage is really good."