Virginia Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) is fouled by Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Corey Heyward (30) in the second half at Hank McCamish Pavilion on Saturday. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
ATLANTA — Malcolm Brogdon came in off a game-winning 3-pointer against Pitt and then the first double-double of his Virginia career.
For more than 30 minutes, though, the former Greater Atlanta Christian standout wasn’t the best Gwinnett high school product on the floor at McCamish Pavilion.
Chris Bolden hit four of his first five shots, including three 3-pointers, and Georgia Tech led 44-42 midway in the second half, appearing poised for a possible upset of the No. 20-ranked Cavaliers.
Then Brogdon and Virginia took over Saturday.
The redshirt sophomore hit two free throws to put the Cavaliers up by two points and followed with a steal and thunderous dunk.
“I thought that was one of the momentum boosts when I got the steal and the finish,” Brogdon said. “We were able to wear then down and that is always our goal.”
Virginia finished on a 22-1 run and claimed a seventh victory in a row, defeating the stunned Yellow Jackets 64-45.
“This means a lot,” Brogdon said. “That was my goal, to come back and win. It’s always fun to play before your family and friends.”
Brogdon, who led GAC to two consecutive Class AA state titles, had a tough game getting his shots to fall, but still finished with another double-double.
The 6-foot-5 guard had 14 points despite 3-for-12 shooting from the floor to go with 11 rebounds and his impressive stat line didn’t end there. He also had three assists and didn’t commit a turnover in 34 minutes.
Brogdon, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Boston College in his previous game, leads the Cavaliers in scoring with a 12-point average and is second in rebounding at just under six per game.
That production is a big reason Virginia is 19-5 overall and 10-1 in the ACC.
“It’s very gratifying, especially after last year,” said Brogdon, who has scored in double figures his past 11 games.
Brogdon missed all of last season because of a foot injury late in his freshman season and the Cavaliers suffered in his absence. Now, though, Virginia is benefiting from his diligent rehab.
“He took full advantage of the opportunity to make himself a better player,” senior forward Joe Harris said. “We knew he had talent and he has worked extremely hard.”
Brogdon, though, appeared in danger of a disappointing homecoming as Tech, sparked by 13 points from former Norcross and North Gwinnett standout Bolden, battled Virginia on even terms.
Then came the collapse.
“If we’d had the same mental toughness and teamwork the last eight minutes, it would have been different,” said Tech center Daniel Miller, who blocked six shots before fouling out with the game decided.
“That’s what we do, wear down teams,” Brogdon said.
Tech (12-12, 3-8) had 6-foot-8 Robert Carter Jr. back after knee surgery, but Trae Golden remains hobbled by a groin injury and the pair combined for just five points.
Meanwhile, the trip home was a pleasurable one for Brogdon.
A number of players joined Brogdon for a home-cooked meal and then the Cavaliers continued their surprising season.
“When you go back to your home town it’s always a big deal,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett Jr. said. “That’s what it’s all about, your family watching you play.
“I know he won’t be pleased with some of the numbers as far as shooting, but he’s doing some other things that help us.”
Next season Virginia will have present GAC standout Isaiah Wilkins. Then a trip to Atlanta will be a double homecoming.