ATLANTA — Jose Alvarado tried to downplay his hot start for Georgia Tech, at least until he was reminded he outscored Virginia Tech in the first half.
“That’s pretty cool, right?” Alvarado said.
Alvarado scored 20 points, including 19 in the first half, and Michael Devoe added 12 in his return from an injury to lead Georgia Tech to a 76-57 win over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night.
Thanks to Alvarado, the second half hardly mattered. Alvarado closed the first half with two 3-pointers, giving the Yellow Jackets a 38-18 lead at the break. The Hokies never challenged the lead, even when outscoring Georgia Tech 39-38 after halftime.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half but the damage was done,” said Virginia Tech coach Mike Young.
Alvarado has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four games for Georgia Tech (11-12, 5-7 Atlantic Coast Conference). He led the Yellow Jackets with six assists.
Coach Josh Pastner was happy with his team’s defense in perhaps Georgia Tech’s most complete game of the season.
“We’ve gotten better,” Pastner said. “We’ve improved each and every day since December. Unfortunately our record doesn’t showcase it.”
Virginia Tech (14-9, 5-7) has lost four consecutive games. Tyrece Radford led the Hokies with 12 points.
Devoe, the sophomore guard who leads Georgia Tech’ with his average of 16.2 points per game, returned after missing three games with a left foot injury.
“It was tough sitting out a couple games, but it was fun to be back,” Devoe said.
Alvarado flourished with Devoe after already picking up his scoring in the games Devoe missed.
“He’s stepping up a lot and stepped up a lot when I was gone, too,” Devoe said. “He’s playing real well and he’s got to continue playing that way.”
Alvarado scored four of Georgia Tech’s first five baskets and kept his scoring touch throughout the opening half. The junior made 8 of 9 shots from the field, including each of his three 3-pointers, in the first half. He missed his only three 3-pointers in a quiet second half.
“They were just making everything,” Radford said. “… Everything seemed to fall for them. We couldn’t stop that.”
It matched Georgia Tech’s biggest halftime lead of the season in an ACC game; the Yellow Jackets also led by 20 in a 96-83 win at North Carolina on Jan. 4.
The Yellow Jackets continued to add to their lead in the second half. Bubba Parham’s 3-pointer extended the lead to 30 points at 55-25.
Virginia Tech’s Landers Nolley scored 10 points in his return to Atlanta. Nolley led Atlanta’s Langston Hughes High School to two state championships. Nolley made only 4 of 14 shots from the field, including 1 of 9 3-pointers.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies struggled with poor shooting, especially on long-range shots. They made only four 3-pointers. The 18 points were not the Hokies’ low mark for an opening half this season. Virginia led Virginia Tech 30-17 at halftime of a 65-39 win on Jan. 4. The Hokies missed nine straight shots in the first half.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets used a 10-0 run, including four points from Devoe, to take a 24-9 lead. The Yellow Jackets had balanced scoring. Moses Wright had 14 points and Parham had 10. Georgia Tech made 29 of 55 shots from the field (52.7%) and 8 of 18 3-pointers.
Young said the Hokies must play with “the energy that is required” to snap the losing streak. “When we’re rolling and we’ve rolled for much of this season we’re up on our toes and our shoulders are back and we’re engaged,” he said, adding “We’re back on our heels a little bit now.”
Virginia Tech: Returns home to play Boston College on Saturday after losing at the Eagles 61-56 on Jan. 25.
Georgia Tech: Visits Pittsburgh on Saturday.