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January 26, 2013

Virginia rolls over Boston College

UVa held off a pesky Boston College team on Saturday afternoon by shooting 77 percent in the second half, outscoring the Eagles 40 to 16 in the paint, and getting 24 points from its bench in a 65-51 win in Charlottesville.

Just like the victory the Cavaliers earned against Virginia Tech on Thursday night, this one was keyed by a first-year player, too. In Blacksburg, it was Evan Nolte who had a career-high. Against BC, it was Justin Anderson, who scored 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting to help lead the Cavaliers to the victory.

"These guys, they're not playing like first-years," senior point guard Jontel Evans said of the team's freshmen. "They're playing like upperclassmen. It's fun to watch. They're so young, when they make a good play, you can see it in their faces."

Virginia (14-5, 4-2 ACC) won its third game in a row despite Joe Harris having an unusually rough night shooting as well as getting just 11 minutes from Nolte because of foul trouble.

Harris still scored 7 points (on 3 of 9 shooting) while adding 4 assists and 3 blocks. Nolte chipped in 9 points and a block, helping give Virginia a big boost in the first half.

The Cavaliers used a 10-2 run to open the game but the Eagles crawled back in it and eventually took the lead thanks to five made 3-point baskets before halftime.

Trailing at intermission by two, Virginia reclaimed the lead on an old-fashioned 3-point play from junior forward Akil Mitchell with 16:16 left.

The Hoos never trailed thereafter.

"I thought we were better in the second half being there on the catch," UVa's Tony Bennett said. "They're hard to guard with their spacing...We said we've got to wear them down a little bit with our offense."

Mitchell was the only other Wahoo besides Anderson who scored in double figures, finishing with 16 points and 6 rebounds. But he wasn't the team's leading rebounder.

That distinction fell to Paul Jesperson who scored just 6 points but had career highs in rebounds (7) and steals (3).

There was no question, though, that Anderson was the star of this game. He scored 14 second-half points and brought the 11,660 fans at John Paul Jones Arena to their feet several times with his dunks and passion. He also posted the second-straight double-figure scoring game of his career, the first time he's ever had two in a row.

"This game [with] Justin, that's probably the most I've seen him around the lane make some plays and some nice drives," Bennett said. "Good screens, good plays... I liked what I saw.

"He grew up in today's game," the fourth-year coach added.

UVa, having won its third-straight conference game and second contest in three days, was playing on very limited rest. The Cavs have until Tuesday night's home matchup with NC State to rest.

"When I first got here, I used to joke the older guys, telling them to stop crying," said Evans, who continues to get his stamina back following a foot injury. "But now I feel their pain. It's hard. You've definitely got to live in the cold tub and take care of your body because it's tough."

Evans finished with a team-high 6 assists against 3 turnovers.

"First half, we got off to a good start and they came down and made a run," the senior from Hampton said. "Second half, I just felt like we were the tougher team on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end. We were very physical with them."

Anderson attributed his day to just doing precisely what the coaches have told him and his fellow teammates to do: take whatever the other team gives.

"I think we all came out with collective effort and we did what it took to win," Anderson explained. "I think the last couple of games I've been able to drive and kick, drive and hit teammates for open shots.

"But I think now maybe that's in the scouting reports. It opens me up a little bit to be able to get to the paint. I'm just taking the open look and trying to stay as unselfish as I can."

Bennett, whose team is now 11-1 when scoring 60 points while holding every conference opponent under that mark, agreed.

"We talk so much to our young guys about being sound, being disciplined, take what the defense gives you," he said. "Same thing on the other end. And the last couple of games and in practice, you're seeing improvements. [Anderson] has that dynamic of athleticism, that explosiveness that makes some plays for him. It was good to see that on display. He's passionate and he brings energy and I like what I'm seeing the last couple of games."

Said Evans of Anderson's play, "That guy, man, you can't calm him down. He brings energy, from team dinner all the way to the game. He's that kind of player."


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