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ACC Men’s Basketball: Fans revive weary Cavaliers to ACC home win over Eagles
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
CHARLOTTESVILLE—Two games in three days weren’t enough to slow down the University of Virginia men’s basketball team.
The Cavaliers captured their third straight victory Saturday with a 65–51 Atlantic Coast Conference win over Boston College in front of 11,660 at John Paul Jones Arena.
Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett said the energy from the crowd may have carried his team because its legs were tired.
“JPJ was electric today,” Virginia freshman forward Justin Anderson said. “And if [the fans] keep bringing that energy, it’s going to be tough to beat us in Charlottesville.”
Virginia (14–5, 4–2 ACC) defeated rival Virginia Tech on the road Thursday night, had a brief practice on Friday and dispatched the Eagles (9–10, 1–5) the following afternoon.
Senior point guard Jontel Evans said when he was a freshman he always told the upperclassmen to “stop crying” about short turnarounds.
“But now I definitely feel their pain,” Evans said. “It’s hard, but you’ve definitely got to live in the cold tub and take care of your body because it’s tough.”
The Cavaliers were anything but cold against the Eagles. They shot 56 percent for the game, including a 17-of-22 effort in the second half (77 percent).
Anderson and senior forward Akil Mitchell led the way with 16 points apiece. It was a career-high for Anderson, a Westmoreland County native.
He scored 14 points in the second half and appeared as comfortable as he ever has as a college player. He consistently attacked the rim and converted on 7 of 9 field goal attempts.
“He’s passionate and he brings energy,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “I like what I’m seeing the last couple of games.”
The Cavaliers opened the game on a 10–2 run, but Boston College rebounded and took a four-point lead later in the half.
The Eagles held a 26–24 advantage at halftime, but Evans said Virginia was “the tougher team on both ends of the floor” in the second half.
The Cavaliers used their size advantage to create mismatches. They outscored the Eagles 40–16 inside the paint.
“We knew we would have an advantage inside,” Mitchell said. “Our jump shots weren’t really falling in the first half, but we did a good job of shifting our focus and getting inside in the second. We knew we were back at home and if we got rolling, the second half would be a good half for us offensively.”
Three players scored in double-figures for the Eagles, who were paced by Ryan Anderson’s 14 points. Still, Boston College suffered its fourth-straight defeat.
“We had to explore ways to share the ball and trust in each other, but we got out of sync on offense,” Eagles head coach Steve Donahue said. “The more-disappointing part is that once things went bad on offense, we can’t let it affect us on the defensive end, but we did that.”
The Cavaliers won’t have much rest before their next game, either. They host No. 18 N.C. State Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“I think the third game might be a little more challenging,” Mitchell said. “I know the coaches will prepare us mentally.”
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