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UVa shakes off slow start, downs Davidson

Dec 31, 2014 - 2:52 AM Charlottesville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Anthony Gill amassed career bests of 25 points and 13 rebounds, helping third-ranked Virginia survive a challenge from Davidson and come through with an 83-72 victory.

Nineteen of Gill's points came in the second half as the Cavaliers (12-0) overcame an early 12-point deficit to achieve their first 12-0 start since 1981-82.

Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points and Darion Atkins had 13 along with 10 rebounds in a game in which Virginia trailed with under 11 1/2 minutes left before eventually pulling away.

Davidson (9-2), averaging a Division-I best 87.7 points per game coming in, received 21 points from Jack Gibbs and a 20-point, seven-rebound effort from Tyler Kalinoski.

The Wildcats had won seven straight since a 90-72 loss to North Carolina in Charlotte on Nov. 22, and gave Virginia all it could handle for much of the contest until ultimately running out of steam.

"When (Virginia) got their offense running and got the crowd into it, their defense was clicking more, especially in the second half," said Kalinoski. "I thought we had great looks, but they just weren't going down for us."

Davidson owned a 52-51 edge following Brian Sullivan's 3-pointer with 11:21 to play, but Virginia answered with a 12-3 run and continued to separate from the Wildcats the rest of the way.

Justin Anderson buried triples on consecutive Cavalier possessions, the first breaking a 55-55 tie, before London Perrantes fed Atkins underneath to cap the spurt and stake UVA to a 63-55 lead.

"Those were significant," Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett said of Anderson's 3-pointers. "Then our defense fed off the crowd and their energy and made them get some tough stops."

Davidson drew within 67-61 with 6:19 left on another triple from Sullivan, but Gill scored on the Cavs' next two trips down the court. His 3-point play with 3:06 remaining all but ended the Wildcats' upset bid, putting Virginia up by a 78-65 count.

The Cavaliers entered Tuesday's clash yielding a nation's best 46.2 points per game, but Davidson came within striking distance of that number less than 15 minutes in behind the sharp shooting of Gibbs and Kalinoski.

The duo combined to go 6-of-7 from 3-point range to begin the game, with both figuring into a 9-0 run that put the Wildcats up 17-9 with 13 1/2 minutes to go in the first half.

Kalinoski and Gibbs knocked down back-to-back treys later in the period to increase the lead to 29-17, and Davidson owned a 34-22 cushion five minutes prior to the intermission.

"I thought our urgency and our alertness or awareness to start the game, and transition defense was very poor," Bennett said. "Gibbs dominated and he got into the elbows and our bigs were going back and all you could see were the back of their heads. We told our guys all week that this will be one of the hardest offenses you will try to guard because they back it up with shooting and cutting."

Virginia clamped down from that stage on, however, limiting the Wildcats to just one basket over the remainder of the half while concluding the frame on a 10-2 surge to trim the margin to 36-32 at the break.

The Cavaliers regained the upper hand with a 6-0 run three minutes into the second half that gave them a 40-38 lead, and the game remained tight until Virginia seized control over the final 10 minutes.

Game Notes

Davidson shot 48.2 percent against a Cavalier defense that had held its first 11 opponents to 40 percent or under, including a 8-of-50 (16 percent) display by Harvard in Virginia's last outing on Dec. 21 ... The Cavs also had allowed less than 70 points in their previous 17 games, the longest streak in the nation ... Anderson finished with 14 points, with Sullivan netting 14 for Davidson ... UVa has won eight straight meetings with the Wildcats ... Davidson fell to 1-20 against ranked teams since their run to the Elite Eight of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.