Virginia defeats St. John’s, 68-50 in NIT
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Justin Anderson scored a career-high 18 points and Virginia extended its home winning streak to 19 games Sunday with a 68-50 victory against St. John’s in the second round of the NIT.
Fellow freshman Taylor Barnette added a career-high 13 points for Virginia (23-11) as first-year Cavaliers scored 46 points, including 15 during a pivotal 20-3 run in the first half. Barnette scored the last eight in a span of 90 seconds.
“We all just mesh together so well,” Barnette said of the roster, which also includes freshmen Mike Tobey (10 points), Teven Jones (5) and Evan Nolte. “I’ve never been part of a team that’s so together and that really helps out on the court.”
The Cavaliers, on their longest home winning streak since they won 34 in a row from 1980-83, will host Iowa in the quarterfinals Wednesday night, with the winner earning a chance to move on to Madison Square Garden in New York.
Anderson, whose athleticism and flair makes him a focal point for fans, said he doesn’t allow himself to look too far ahead. Then again, he’s having so much fun now.
“It always feels good to look to your left and look to your right and I feel very comfortable with these guys,” he said. “I can’t wait to go to battle every single night and with everybody stepping up, it’s the best feeling.”
Phil Green IV led the Red Storm (17-16) with 18 points and Jakarr Sampson had 14. St. John’s played without scoring leader D’Angelo Harrison, who was suspended by coach Steve Lavin for the rest of the season on March 1
The Red Storm shot just 34 percent (21 of 62) and were plagued by foul trouble much of the game.
“It was a game that was kind of disjointed. It was uneven play on both sides of the ball,” he said. “It didn’t feel like either team really found a great rhythm. ... In the end, they had more runs than we did.”
Actually, the big one in the first half put the Cavaliers in charge to stay.
They trailed 8-4 before coach Tony Bennett inserted Jjones, Tobey and Nolte into the lineup and it paid off quickly. Jones hit a 3-pointer and Tobey scored inside, sparking a 20-3 burst that gave the Cavaliers a 24-11 lead. They never trailed again.
St. John’s closed to 40-33 in the second half, but Anderson answered with a 3-pointer, igniting a 14-4 surge.