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Virginia Tops St. Johns; Heads To NIT Quarterfinals - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Virginia Tops St. Johns; Heads To NIT Quarterfinals

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Freshmen were the driving force behind the Virginia men's basketball team's 68-50 NIT win against St. John's Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena.

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett says, "I thought the first-years really gave us a lift, and played very good basketball, and that was pivotal in this game. They made some good decisions, and obviously shot it well. They got it to the line, and just did some nice things. I was very pleased at that opportunity to be in this setting and to get those guys in there."

Freshman guard Justin Anderson led the Cavaliers with a career-high 18 points.

Fellow freshman Taylor Barnette was a firecracker off the bench.

Barnette only played 13 minutes, but scored 13 points, which is also a career-high.

"It feels great, but I gotta give all the credit to my teammates," says Barnette. "They're the one's that set the screens or made the pass.  They made that opportunity available to me."

Senior point guard Jontel Evans says, "He has a gift. I've never seen a player come off the bench and start off swishing every three-point shot he shoots. He's on fire as soon as he takes his warm-up off."

UVA junior forward Akil Mitchell added, "He's a spark plug. If he gets any room or rhythm, it's going up, and it's going in. All of us expected that, but for the fans to see it, it's really exciting."

The Cavaliers will take on 3-seed Iowa in the NIT quarterfinals Wednesday at 7 pm at John Paul Jones Arena.

The winner of that game will advance to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

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