Anderson returns, Virginia advances to ACC semifinals
By: Kevin Wheeler
Virginia took the court finally got their most efficient offensive player back on the floor on Thursday for their Quarterfinal matchup with Florida State in the ACC Tournament. But the Cavaliers didn’t need much production from him to seal a victory.
Junior guard Justin Anderson made his first appearance since Feb. 7 on Thursday in Virginia’s 58-44 win over the Seminoles, but he went scoreless in only 12 minutes of court time coming off the bench. Anderson had been suffering from a broken finger before having to undergo an appendectomy last week.
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said he knew Anderson wouldn’t pick up where he left off before his injury 32 days ago.
“I was so thankful that he could be out there,” Bennett said. “I told him we’re going to use you in some short stints and see what you can do. Of course he looked rusty … but my hope is next time he’s out there, he’s better, and you just have to go through that [process].”
Virginia had a 14-point lead at the half, but struggled offensively in the second. After shooting an astounding 63% from the floor in the first, the Cavaliers fell victim to the Seminoles tough defensive play inside and only managed to convert 33% of their field goals in the second half.
Florida State pulled within five at the seven-minute mark, but couldn’t get closer than that.
Seminoles guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes had been on a tear coming into this contest, averaging 19.4 points per game over Florida State’s last eight. The Cavaliers second-ranked defense held him to only 13 points on the day.
Thursday marked the eleventh game this season in which Virginia held its opponent under 20 points entering halftime. Overall, Bennett said he was pleased with his team’s execution.
“We were very sharp and played with a purpose defensively,” he said. “We didn’t give them easy looks and rebounded well.”
“In the second half, there were enough plays that were made for us to be successful, but we labored … and we just had enough.”
Florida State will now head home after claiming a win over Clemson in the second round of the ACC Tournament.
Virginia has all but clinched a number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament with their win Thursday, but will return to action Friday night to take on No. 5 seeded North Carolina at 7 PM at the Greensboro Coliseum.