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Dec 17, 2002

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Freshman Derrick Byars scored all but two of his 16 points in the second half as Virginia held on for an 84-76 win Tuesday over East Tennessee State.

Devin Smith added 18 for Virginia (4-2), which was playing for the first time since an 82-75 loss to at Michigan State on Dec. 4 and showed signs of sluggishness.

Virginia trailed 50-49 with 13:15 left in the game before Byars hit three straight 3-pointers and then added two more lay-ups to help lift the Cavaliers to a 69-56 advantage with 5:33 left to play.

“I was open a couple of times and coach says to take the open shots. I guess I was just on a little bit,” Byars said.

The Buccaneers (3-4), however, managed to reduce that lead to 80-76 in the final minute on a 3-point play by Tim Smith. The Cavaliers had to make 10 of their final 12 free throws to secure the win.

Tiras Wade led the Buccaneers, picked in the preseason to win the Southern Conference’s North Division, with 23 points, while Zakee Wadood added 18 and Smith had 17.

East Tennessee State, which led by nine twice in the opening half, held a 39-35 advantage at the half. The Buccaneers connected on five of their 10 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes and took advantage of 13 Virginia turnovers, which they converted into 21 points compared to eight for Virginia.

“They out-toughed us and for about 20-25 minutes, got every loose basketball on the floor. … They are a good team and well-coached,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said.

ETSU coach Ed DeChellis said, “We were trying to keep Virginia off-balance somewhat. I’m proud of our team. We fell just a little bit short.”

Jermaine Harper entered the game with 11:08 remaining in the first half and finished with seven points in 23 minutes. It marked Harper’s return to the court after being suspended since Nov. 12 for violating unspecified team rules.

The game was Virginia’s first at University Hall in 25 days. The Cavaliers defeated Long Island here on Nov. 22 and then played three games at the Maui Invitational and then at Michigan State before having a 13-day break for exams.

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