ATLANTA — Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory never misses a chance to talk up center Daniel Miller, one of the most unsung players in the ACC. He got one final opportunity on Saturday to push his senior and didn’t waste it.
Miller scored 14 points in his final home game to help Georgia Tech overcome a slow start and beat Virginia Tech 62-51 on Saturday at McCamish Pavilion.
“I hope the other coaches in our league were watching,” Gregory said. “Because he’s been outstanding. When you watch the game and see the impact, he’s had on the game …”
Miller, who was starting for the 124th straight game, was 5-for-5 from the field in the first half and wound up making 6 of 7 shots. The 6-foot-11 senior also added nine rebounds, three assists and three steals, and just missed his seventh double-double of the season.
“I’m just taking my shots when I have them,” Miller said. “The guys look for me to make a play.”
Georgia Tech (15-16, 6-12 ACC) also got 16 points from forward Robert Carter Jr. and 14 points and eight assists from guard Trae Golden.
Virginia Tech (9-21, 2-16) was led by forward Joey van Zegeren, a 6-10 sophomore from the Netherlands, who scored a career-high 21 points and added seven rebounds. Van Zegeren made 9 of 17 from the field.
It was the second straight win for Georgia Tech and the sixth straight loss for Virginia Tech, which has dropped 16 of its last 17. It was the 10th double-digit loss for the Hokies.
Georgia Tech will meet Boston College in the first round of next week’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., while Virginia Tech will open against Miami.
The first half was played at a slow pace, with neither team able to do much in transition. Each team had only two fast-break points in the opening half. Neither side was able to shoot effectively from the field, either. Virginia Tech made only 9 of 29 (31 percent) and Georgia Tech shot 44 percent after making seven of its final 11 attempts.
“The first half we did a decent job on defense,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “The second half we gave them too many looks and they did a good job making plays against our zone. Daniel Miller is a tough matchup against our zone.”
Georgia Tech began to assert itself late in the half. After Virginia Tech took an 18-16 lead, Georgia Tech went on a 9-0 lead that was punctuated by a 3-pointer from the corner from guard Chris Bolden. Miller scored on a layup at the buzzer to give the Yellow Jackets a 29-22 lead.
Virginia Tech would have been in a tough spot had it not been for sophomore van Zegeren, who used his long arms to slip inside and score 10 first-half points.
“We made a concerted effort to go inside,” Johnson said. “We had some good looks that we probably needed to knock down.”
Georgia Tech continue to build its lead in the second half and pushed it to 14 points at 44-28 when forward Robert Carter Jr. outfought two opponents for a rebound, took a dribble toward the corner, reversed his direction and dropped in a short jumper.
Virginia Tech continue to battle and trimmed the lead to eight points at 58-50, but Georgia Tech guard Trae Golden connected on a 3-pointer to end the treat.
“I feel good about the way it ended,” Gregory said. “After beating Syracuse we finished off a good week. We did a lot of good things today. All we can do now is get ready for the next game.”
NOTES: Virginia Tech only dressed nine players for the game. F Cadarian Raines (ankle), G Adam Smith (stress fracture) and F C.J. Barksdale (ankle) did not play. Barksdale, who averages 8.1 points per game, was hurt in the last game against Maryland and limited to three minutes. Smith, who played at Jonesboro High in the south Atlanta suburbs, was averaging 11 points when injured on Jan. 19. Raines, who was hurt on Jan. 25, has missed three games and played only 12 minutes since. … Virginia Tech G Ben Emelogu (Achilles’ tendon) had missed the last four games, but was able to return
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