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UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett: Justin Anderson may be in lineup at Louisville

justin dunkJunior guard Justin Anderson got good news during a doctor visit on Monday, and UVA coach Tony Bennett said on his radio show Tuesday that the All-America candidate may be able to play Saturday in the Cavs’ regular-season finale at Louisville.

The game would mark the four-week mark since Anderson was injured late in the first half of Virginia’s 52-47 win over Louisville on Feb. 7. Anderson broke the pinky finger on his left (shooting) hand, and has missed the Cavaliers’ last seven games recovering from surgery on the broken bone.

Anderson is the team’s second-leading scorer, at 13.4 points per game, and is shooting an ACC-best 48.4 percent from three-point range.

The 6’6” Anderson also averages 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, and can defend any of the three positions on the perimeter.

Bennett said Tuesday that Anderson, who has been playing defense and doing light shooting in practice in recent days, will be able to engage in more game-related activities in practice the next couple of days as Virginia prepares for the game at Louisville.

“My hope is we can get him back safely, sooner rather than later,” Bennett said. “If it goes well, maybe he’ll have a chance to play Saturday. Who knows? But it looks like he’s getting close – and that’s a good thing.”

The return of Anderson will be a big bonus as UVA turns its attention toward the NCAA Tournament. Virginia has gone 8-0 in Anderson’s absence, including finishing off the win over Louisville in the game in which he was injured and left late in the first half, but getting Anderson back into the mix is key for the team’s hopes to make a run at a Final Four berth and national title.

Don’t expect Anderson to come back and play at the All-America level that he was at or near when he was injured.

“It’s not like he’s got to come in and swing for the fences and hit home runs,” Bennett said on his radio show Tuesday. “We’ll be smart with how he’s used and all those things. But everybody handles that differently. We’ll see how he’s feeling. But I’m glad that he’s nearing or getting closer to coming back. That’s a nice piece to have coming back.”

– Story by Chris Graham