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No. 3 Virginia turns back Davidson’s upset bid

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — You know that pesky fly that keeps irritating you, yet you can’t seem to swat it in time? Davidson represented that pest to Virginia on Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.

In the end, the Cavaliers would smack aside the annoyance. Third-ranked Virginia fought off Davidson’s valiant effort to move to 12-0 on the season with an 83-72 win in front of a sell-out crowd of 14,593.

“We told the guys all week that this will be one of the hardest offenses you’ll have to guard,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “(Davidson) kind of schooled us, they kind of did.”

The Wildcats (9-2) entered the night with the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense, averaging 87.7 points per game. Virginia came in leading the nation in scoring defense at 46.1 points per game. While not known for their offense, the Cavaliers showed they could dominate on both sides of the ball.

“That was a terrific college basketball game, great atmosphere,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “Virginia is talented, skilled, very smart and well-coached with good discipline. I thought we did a terrific job with matching them for quite a bit of the game.”

Forward Anthony Gill played his best game as a Cavalier, scoring a game-high 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

The rebounding battle, which was once tied at 19 in the first half, went to the Cavaliers, 42-25.

Forward Darion Atkins gave the Cavaliers a boost off of the bench, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

“(Gill and Atkins) were significant with their play on the glass,” Bennett said. “Second-chance points in Darion’s case, and Anthony, who has been able to get some mismatches. That was an impressive offensive game.”

Virginia regained the lead with 17:01 remaining in the second half, but guard Brian Sullivan’s 3-pointer put the Wildcats up 52-51 with 11:21 left.

The 3-pointer was the story of the night for the Wildcats, who made 11 overall.

The Cavaliers answered with their own 3-point attack. Guard Justin Anderson buried back-to-back treys to give Virginia the 61-55 lead and the momentum.

Virginia shot 44 percent for the game and hit 24 of 29 free-throw attempts. Davidson shot just 12 free throws for the entire contest, but the Wildcats made 48.2 percent of their field-goal attempts.

Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon shot 2-for-10 from the field but sank all 12 of his free-throw attempts to finish with 16 points.

Davidson never pulled closer than six points during the final minutes.

“We let the game get away from us a little at the start of the second half,” McKillop said, “but not because of a lack of toughness or effort. We fought for 40 minutes, and I’m incredibly proud of them.”

Anderson finished with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

“They went zone, and we hit a 3-pointer out of that, and those were significant (points),” Bennett said of Anderson’s 3-pointer. “I don’t know if they wore down. Our crowd gave us energy, and Justin hit the three, and those were significant.”

Anderson finishes the nonconference schedule shooting 60.9 percent from 3-point range.

Guard Jack Gibbs led Davidson with 21 points before fouling out late in the game. Guard Tyler Kalinoski added 20 points and made three 3-pointers.

Davidson came out hot in the first half and put Virginia on its heels. The Wildcats shot 48 percent from the field for the half and knocked down six of 15 3-pointers.

Virginia led by three early before Davidson went in front. The Wildcats’ lead grew to as many as 12 points in the first 20 minutes, but the Cavaliers sliced it to 36-32 at the half thanks to a 10-2 run.

NOTES: Virginia leads the series 12-4, which includes a 70-57 win last year in Charlotte, N.C. … The Cavaliers were ranked in the top 10 for the first nine weeks of the season for the first time since 1982-83. … Davidson is off to its best start under coach Bob McKillop. … Davidson is the first team Virginia allowed to shoot better than 40 percent from the field this season. … Virginia travels to Miami to open Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday. Davidson kicks off Atlantic

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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