Anderson gets surprise start, jump-starts Cavs' victory

Virginia coach Tony Bennett wanted a player who could guard any position on the floor - one reason

he moved 6-foot-6, 226-pound freshman Justin Anderson into the starting lineup against Clemson last Tuesday.

He got more than that - Anderson earned two spots on ESPN's top 10 plays of the day.

One came on a blind, over-the-head pass that led to one of Akil Mitchell's four dunks. Another was on an alley-oop pass from Jontel Evans that Anderson took at waist level and dunked over his head.

Anderson also drew the initial defensive assignment on Clemson's 6-9, 225-pound Milton Jennings, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds when the Tigers beat U.Va. earlier in the season.

Jennings was 1-for-7 from the field and scored two points Tuesday night.

Today, the Cavaliers visit Maryland, the school to which he originally committed in 2011.

"He's been fighting for a spot, trying to get in the starting lineup," U.Va. scoring leader Joe Harris said. "He brings energy whenever he comes in, but having him out there from the start, that helps."

Anderson said he didn't know he would start until moments before the game.

"Coach (Bennett) said, 'OK, let's go with you guys who are starting,' " Anderson said, "and, actually, I stepped off and they had to tell me to get on the court.

"The starting position; it really doesn't really matter. But it was something, when the opportunity was presented, that I was going to work toward."

Anderson, whose only previous start had come in the season opener, hit 6 of 9shots from the field and finished with 14 points in 24 minutes.

"He played with great confidence (and) good pace," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "He's a big, strong kid who can play a couple of positions. He's obviously going to be a terrific player."

The Cavaliers (16-6, 6-3 ACC) were without 6-foot-11 freshman Mike Tobey, who had been diagnosed with mononucleosis earlier in the week. Anderson took the place of fellow freshman Evan Nolte, who had replaced injured sophomore Darion Atkins in the starting lineup.

Another freshman, Taylor Barnette, went 3 of 4 on 3-pointers off the bench as the Cavaliers got 34 points from their four Tobey-less freshmen. After missing its first nine 3-pointers Tuesday night, U.Va. finished 10 of 24 from beyond the arc.

Anderson had one of the 3-pointers Tuesday and has gone 5 for 10 on 3-pointers after a 4 for 24 start. He also has the best assist-turnover ratio on the team, 48-22.

Bennett said he was more impressed with Anderson's pass to Mitchell that was No. 9 on ESPN's top play than he was the Anderson dunk that was No. 2.

"I don't think it was showboating; I really didn't," Bennett said. "He tried to go between his legs in the first half, they knocked it away and I told him, 'That's not part of what we're trying to do.' And, he understood that.

"He's a passionate guy and everybody has different personalities and he stays true to that. I always talk about being continuous and efficient and, when he does that, his energy is so good for us."

Anderson committed to Maryland in 2011, then re-opened his recruiting when then-Terps coach Gary Williams announced his retirement.

Anderson, whose family lives in Montoss in Virginia's Northern Neck, spent four years at Montrose Christian in Md., located minutes from Maryland's campus.

"My teammates are getting on me already but I have no clue what to expect," Anderson said.

"I'm in my own little world out here. I can't hear. I cannot hear."

Posted to: College Basketball Sports

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