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December 23, 2013

Wahoos avoid holiday letdown

Justin Anderson scored 14 points and Joe Harris had 12 Monday night as UVa overcame a sloppy performance and held off Norfolk State 66-56.

The Cavaliers (9-3), in their next-to-last tuneup before beginning Atlantic Coast Conference play, used a 20-5 run in the second half to take command after the Spartans rallied to pull even at 32-32 with 17:37 to play.

Norfolk State (8-5), which lost to Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena last season in the opening round of the NIT, got 12 points from Pendarvis Williams and 10 from Marese Phelps, but the Spartans went scoreless for nearly 5 1/2 minutes as Virginia opened its lead and never got closer than seven.

Akil Mitchell, absent from the Cavaliers' starting lineup for the first time since January 2012, added eight points and seven rebounds, and Anthony Gill scored all seven of his points in the second half.

The Spartans erased a 32-26 halftime deficit by forcing turnovers on four of Virginia's first five possessions in the second half, pulling even on Williams' layup and prompting a timeout by UVa.

Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett inserted Gill, the team's third-leading scorer with a 9.2 average, into the lineup for the first time all night during the timeout and Virginia promptly went on a 9-0 run with Gill contributing five of the points.

The Spartans got a jumper from Kievyn Lila-St. Rose and a 3-pointer from Williams around a three-point play by Harris, closing to within 44-37, but London Perrantes and Mitchell each made a pair of free throws for Virginia and baskets by Anderson and Teven Jones pushed the lead to 52-37.

Brandon Goode finally broke the Cavaliers' 20-5 run with 7:51 remaining, ending a scoreless drought of nearly 5 1/2 minutes for the Spartans, but their 35 percent (20-55) shooting kept them from making a charge.

The game marked the first time since Jan. 19, 2012 that Mitchell was not in the Cavaliers' starting lineup. Mitchell, Virginia's No. 2 scorer last season with a 13.1 average, is sixth on the team this year with a 6.1 scoring average and shooting just 45 percent. Last year, he shot 54 percent.



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