The Virginia men's basketball team beat Fairfield 54-45 in its home opener Monday night as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
UVA (1-1) will play the winner of Penn and Delaware Tuesday for the right to advance to Madison Square Garden on November 21st.
The 'Hoos trailed Fairfield 30-28 at halftime, but held the Stags to 15 points on 5-of-24 shooting in the 2nd half.
Head coach Tony Bennett says, "Paul (Jesperson), Justin (Anderson), Joe (Harris), they all did some things, Evan (Nolte), and Akil (Mitchell), it really was all of them that did different things at different times that helped. It was fairly evenly distributed in terms of, it wasn't just, 'We're gonna try to go to Joe, we're gonna go to Joe.' I thought some guys did some things, and that was helpful."
Point guard Jontel Evans missed his second straight game, as the senior is still recovering from off season foot surgery.
Junior guard Joe Harris led the Cavaliers with 15 points, and played much of the game at point guard.
Harris says, "I think it really showed the freshmen how much we have to value every possession, which is what Coach Bennett preaches to us all the time. You have to value every possession, offensively, and especially defensively."
Mitchell had 12 points and 8 rebounds, while freshman Evan Nolte had 11 points off the bench.