UVa. basketball overcomes sluggish start in 57-43 win over Northern Iowa

Virginia and Northern Iowa combined for 10 points in the first 11 minutes. The Cavs heated up in the second half en route to a 57-43 win over UNI Saturday in Charlottesville.

uva-logo-new2UVa. (8-3) led 21-16 at the break despite shooting just 29.76 percent from the field. Northern Iowa (5-6), coming in off a 77-68 win over VCU last week, shot just 25.9 percent in the first half and could never really get on track offensively.

Northern Iowa cut the Virginia led to nine at 46-37 on a layup by Seth Tuttle with 5:21 to play, but an Akil Mitchell steal and coast-to-coast layup at the 4:05 mark extended the lead back to double digits.

UNI would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Justin Anderson led Virginia with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field. Joe Harris had 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and London Perrantes had nine points and five assists for the ‘Hoos.

Tuttle had 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Northern Iowa.

Virginia shot 37.7 percent for the game, and was 16-of-34 from the field after coming out of the gate a woeful 4-for-19.
Northern Iowa ended up at 31.7 percent from the field and just 2-of-19 from three-point range for the afternoon.

Virginia returns to action Monday at 7 p.m. at the John Paul Jones Arena against Norfolk State.


Team Notes
• Virginia (8-3) snapped a two-game losing streak
• UVa has won its first game after fall semester exams for the eighth consecutive season
• The Cavaliers improve to 2-0 this season against Missouri Valley Conference opponents
• Northern Iowa’s 16 first-half points mark the fourth time this season the Cavaliers have allowed fewer than 20 points in a half (27th time in the Tony Bennett era)
• The 37 combined first-half points was the fewest in a UVa game since Feb. 5, 1992 when Virginia led Virginia Tech 18-15 at halftime (33 combined points) at the Roanoke Civic Center (UVa won 61-57 in 2OT)

Player Career Highs
• Darion Atkins had a career-high five blocked shots

Player Notes
• Justin Anderson (16 pts) scored in double figures for the fifth time this season (17th time in his career)
• Joe Harris (12 pts) scored in double figures for the seventh time this season (76th time in his career)
• Darion Atkins made his first start of the season

John Paul Jones Arena Records
• Darion Atkins tied the Virginia JPJ record with five blocked shots


Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett 

On Justin Anderson and playing four guards: “I thought he [Justin Anderson] was solid. This was a game that required us to play four guards. There will be games like that. There will be other games where we’ll have to use more of our size. You can say, ‘You had a size advantage. Couldn’t you have exploited that if you would have gone big?’ I just didn’t feel we were able to exploit it the way we needed to offensively. Then on the defensive end, I felt like it was important that we could manage because they really spread the floor although obviously they did not shoot it well. I thought that flexibility of at times playing Justin [Anderson] at the four, going with four guards and getting more ball handling on the floor and opening the floor for some penetration and kicks helped us. We only had two turnovers during the second half and 10 for the game, and that was a stat we had talked about, trying to be more secure with the basketball and lower the turnovers.”

On playing fewer guys more minutes: “I didn’t come in saying that we were only going to play these guys. I wanted to look at the four-guard lineup knowing Northern Iowa’s personnel. I think the game dictated that. It really did. I’m pretty sure that was the group that got us our lead by 10. We went four guards and that’s why I started the second half that way. I thought they had to come out and guard us. They play a really packed in defense and they were switching a little bit. I just thought we were going to have to dent it a little bit off the dribble. You weren’t going to be able to just throw it in and go to work. We had some trouble early. I thought some guys got rolling and then we matched up better defensively with their perimeter guys.”

On the first half of the game: “I thought in stretches we defended well. We got some decent looks, but again, you have to ask, ‘Was it a quality look?’ I kept saying if you’ll work to get a quality look, you’ve got to keep taking them and eventually they’re going to fall as long as you’ve rotated the basketball and gotten good stuff. Early, we looked really disconnected, and that’s where we’re not getting a lot with our traditional sized lineup. That’s where we need a little more ball movement, dribbling and shooting.”

On creating momentum through blocks: “Maybe your defense breaks down a little bit, but when you have Darion [Atkins] back there, five blocks, and you put Justin [Anderson] as a four, that cleans up some mistakes you make. That’s huge. When those turn into a transition bucket, that was very timely for us. Those were some athletic, acrobatic blocks that we certainly capitalized on.”


Northern Iowa Head Coach Ben Jacobson 

On his feelings at halftime: “At halftime, I felt fortunate to be within five points. Neither team shot the basketball well in that half. But with as many offensive opportunities that we missed, either turnovers or missed shots, to be within five at halftime I thought we had a legitimate chance to beat a very good team.”

On UVa’s four-guard lineup in the second half: “He [Bennett] went to that some in the first half as well I think. We had them a little off balance. When they did throw it inside, our guys did a good job of doubling their bigs and that put them a little off balance. I think it was a good adjustment on Tony’s part to go with four guards to be able to stretch the defense and make us defend a little differently.

On Justin Anderson: “Coming into the game we thought he was one of the keys to their team in many ways with his energy and his ability to get points in a hurry. That block and assist are two examples of that. He’s played well for them, and today he was the guy that was key.”

On Seth Tuttle and his frustration early in the game: “We talked about it after the game, and I think he needed to go to some of his power moves and use the shot fake since guys were looking to block shots all game. I feel like if he would have done that then he could have started the game a little better. To get seven offensive rebounds as a team against Virginia is good, to do it by yourself is just fantastic. He had a good effort in the second half, but I feel like he could have started better.”


Virginia Guard Justin Anderson

On the practices over the long layoff: “We’ve been doing a lot of competing against each other. We knew that we were going to have a good game and we knew that we were going to shoot the ball well. We’ve been shooting really well in practice and making the extra pass and that’s been the fun thing. As long as we keep that up, we’ll be good.”

On UVa’s improving defense: “Our defense has been tremendous. We’ve been flying around, staying on our feet, guarding people and just playing the pack line the way it needs to be played.”