CHARLOTTESVILLE — The gap between the Virginia and Virginia Tech men’s basketball teams grew even wider Tuesday.
Virginia cruised to a 73-55 win over the Hokies at John Paul Jones Arena, recording its most lopsided win in the series since January 1991.
UVa (18-6, 8-3 ACC), which took the lead for good midway through the first half, beat Tech (11-13, 2-9) by 16 points last month and eclipsed that margin Tuesday.
Why is UVa that much better than Tech this year?
“We’re playing the heck out of our defense and we’re very unselfish on the offensive end,” UVa guard Jontel Evans said. “We’re just playing as a team.”
Guard Joe Harris had a career-high 26 points for UVa, which swept the regular-season series for the second time in three seasons.
Virginia Tech point guard Erick Green had 22 points. He had 21 of Tech’s 32 second-half points.
But Green was 0 of 7 from the field in the first half, when he had one point. That was a big reason UVa led 36-23 at halftime.
“I had wide-open looks,” Green said of the first half. “I can’t have a half like that for our team to be able to be in games like this.”
Evans guarded Green.
“In the first half, I told my teammates that I’m going to waste all my energy on the defensive end to stop him,” Evans said. “I wasn’t really gambling, just staying with him when he was coming off screens, just trying to make him hit contested shots.”
Green, Jarell Eddie and Robert Brown were a combined 1 of 13 from the field in the first half. The rest of the team was 8 of 13.
“Erick was trying to get the other guys involved [in the first half],” Tech coach James Johnson said. “We don’t have time for other guys to get involved. … We need Erick to be the aggressor.”
Green missed his first nine shots before making his first basket with 16:28 to go.
That began a stretch in which Green had all of Tech’s points in an 11-5 run that cut the lead to 48-36 with 14:06 left. But Tech came no closer.
Green finished 4 of 17 from the field, tying his season low for baskets.
In last weekend’s loss to Georgia Tech, Green had to be helped off the court at game’s end because of exhaustion and dehydration. He played 34 minutes Tuesday.
“I’m still tired, really tired,” Green said.
Akil Mitchell had 17 points for the third-place Cavaliers.
The last-place Hokies are on a seven-game skid.
What has gone so wrong for them?
“I don’t know,” Green said. “When all the guys come in the house and we’re all hanging out, we always talk about that, and we don’t know. I don’t know if it’s that hunger we don’t have anymore because we had something to prove and we let it go or what, but we’ve got to find it because I’m tired of losing.”
The Hokies shot 34.6 percent from the field. They shot worse than 40 percent from the field for the fifth time in six games.
The Cavaliers “take you out of transition,” Johnson said. “And then in the halfcourt, they pack the lane and make you hit jump shots.”
Eddie’s slump continued. He was 1 of 7 from the field and is 2 of 21 the past three games combined.
Johnson started walk-on Will Johnston instead of Eddie. Eddie did not play for the final 17 minutes of last weekend’s loss after he slammed his water bottle to the floor and caused water and ice to spill onto the court.
But Johnson said he started Johnston instead of Eddie for performance reasons. Eddie did not enter Tuesday’s game until there was 9:38 left in the first half.
“I’ve got to play the guys that are productive,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to try to shake something up.”
Brown’s slump also continued. He was 1 of 5 from the field.
Harris was 5 of 5 from 3-point range in the first half. He was guarded by forward C.J. Barksdale in the early going, when he made three 3-pointers in the first four minutes.
“Having Barksdale on me, I felt like I could really move him and lose him,” Harris said. “Guys [were] screening and getting me open. Bigs aren’t used to guarding and having to get around screens.”
“We’re not listening to the scouting report,” Green said. “You’re supposed to chase Joe Harris and make him curl, not hit wide-open 3s.”