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For the first time since the '94-'95 seasons, the Virginia Cavaliers are in the ACC Tournament semifinals in back to back seasons. Much like last year's quarterfinal against Florida State, the two teams battled back and forth with the good guys finishing on top. In fact, the two games were so similar this excerpt from last year's recap still applies (minus the score):
"FSU also took advantage of a few questionable calls and some lazy early turnovers to hang in the game until around halftime, when they trailed 32-27. A fired up Tony Bennett went into the break commenting, "It's a physical game, it should be called that way."
Virginia got out to a hot start, jumping to a 14-2 lead and controlling the pace of the game on both ends of the court. The Cavaliers made their first six shots and their first miss (Brogdon) was rebounded by Anthony Gill and put back in the basket. For the first half UVa. shot 63% from the field while holding FSU to 28% shooting and just 17 points.
Evan Nolte had arguably his best game of the season with 11 points, two rebounds, one assist, and one block. He went three for four from the field, all three pointers, and made both of his free throws.
The Hoos never trailed in the game, but things got a little too close for comfort as the Noles cut Virginia's lead to five points with 7:06 remaining. Xavier Rathan-Mayes missed a three pointer, Nolte rebounded, and London Perrantes found Mike Tobey for a dunk that gave them a little more breathing room
Tobey finished with 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting to go with six rebounds. To the delight of the impressive Virginia fanbase in Greensboro, Justin Anderson returned for his first game since breaking his finger and subsequent (but unrelated) appendectomy. Expectedly, he had a little bit of rust with 0 for 2 shooting and one turnover, but the playing time is valuable as Tony Bennett works him back into the system.
There were a couple scary moments as Anderson and Atkins went down hard in separate plays. Anderson fell hard on a block shot and Atkins landed funny on his ankle and rolled it, but both returned to the game.
Brogdon had foul trouble in the first half and only played 24 minutes, but finished with 10 points. Perrantes dished nine assists in the victory.
Neither team was particularly happy with the officiating crew, especially Jamie Luckie, calling 35 fouls. Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton received a technical foul for vocalizing his displeasure for an offensive foul call against the Noles, and if the game had been a little bit longer I don't think Coach Bennett would have been far behind.
Once again Virginia's defense was incredible, harassing the Noles and limiting first year standout Rathan-Mayes to just 13 points in 40 minutes (he literally played the whole game). He had 30 against Clemson in their first round game yesterday. FSU finished the game shooting 32% from the field.
Virginia will now play the winner of Louisville and North Carolina at 7pm Friday night.