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March 24, 2013

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery 1 media-icon-photogallery.gif | Photo Gallery 2 media-icon-photogallery.gif | Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

Virginia 68, St. John’s 50
NIT Second Round

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On freshmen’s contributions:

“I thought the first years really gave us a lift and played very good basketball. That was pivotal in this game. We made good decisions, obviously shot it well enough from the line, just did some nice things.”

On NIT play:

“The ability to play in the NIT and the opportunity to go (to Madison Square Garden), all of our guys were excited. I know Akil (Mitchell) made that statement (following the Norfolk St. game) and I think he misspoke, because the opportunity to play in this tournament and to continue on and to go on – our guys understand that and know that. And if they don’t, they’re in the wrong program.”

On home crowd:

“To have that crowd out that early on a Sunday, and to see them get behind us and really pull for us and give us that kind of edge that we needed, was so important. I’ll sound like Mr. Littlepage – we’re going to need them again. I didn’t grab a microphone this time, but we play an excellent Iowa team.”

Freshman Guard Taylor Barnette:

On leaving the game to a standing ovation:

“That was a lot of fun. I give all the credit to my teammates and coaches. They’re the ones who made that happen. You can’t do anything but smile when something like that happens.”

On the freshmen contributions tonight:

“Everybody played great: Justin [Anderson], Mike [Tobey], Evan [Nolte], Teven [Jones]. Everybody has been coming off the bench and doing their thing. We’ve been playing together and playing our roles, and that’s really worked out well for us. We’re motivated to play in every game. We were able to come out, play, and help get the win.”

On coming off the bench cold:

“I come out trying to do whatever I can for the team; playing my role. If there’s an open shot, then I take it. If not, then I make the next pass, screen and play team defense. I’m just trying to play my role to the fullest.”

On his confident shooting:

“Coach doesn’t really say, `Let it fly,’ but he trusts me to shoot the ball. I think that I’ve tried to improve as much as I can to shoot when I’m open. I think that he trusts me to shoot.”

Junior Forward Akil Mitchell:

On the motivation of the crowd:

“It was a lot of fun. Anytime we get a chance to play at home and in front of our fans and get a win is exciting. They were excited to see us knocking down shots. Taylor [Barnette] gave us a great boost, so it was exciting. Watching Taylor in practice we know what to expect – he’s a firecracker. If he gets any daylight or any room then it’s going in. When he’s playing well, its nothing but the bottom of the net. We were all excited for him today.”

On continuing NIT play:

“It will be good, especially for the young guys. It’s an opportunity to play teams outside of the ACC, who are doing a lot of different things. The last two teams we’ve played were in zones and pressing, so it will give them good experience against different kinds of defenses. I am absolutely excited to have another opportunity to keep playing. It’s disappointing not to be in the NCAA Tournament, but this is a great opportunity to continue playing the game that I love. It’s a good experience.”

Senior Guard Jontel Evans:

On the energy of the team today:

“Everyone knows that we messed up our chance early in the season to go to Madison Square Garden against Delaware, so now guys are eager and itching to get that chance back. We have a lot of energy now and are closer to getting back there.”

Freshman Forward Justin Anderson:

On how it exciting it is to have a group of freshmen like this:

“It is very exciting and I have said all year I hate thinking about the future, I like thinking about the next game, about Iowa who we have coming in. It is always feels good though to look to your left and to your right and say I feel comfortable with these guys, I can’t wait to go to battle with them every single night. With everybody stepping up it is the best feeling. We are part of a great basketball program and all we can do is continue to build off of this.”

On playing in the NIT:

“Being a freshman you are just happy to play basketball, happy to living your freshman season. I don’t want it to get old – I want to keep playing as long as I can. We have an opportunity to keep playing basketball so why not take it? My dream growing up personally, coming from the little small town where I come from, was to play basketball on TV. And we were on ESPN today, that’s my dream so I look at it like that. You’re on TV and you get a chance to perform with your team. We took an advantage of the opportunity presented and we did well.”

St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin

On Virginia:

“No real surprise in terms of our knowledge (of Virginia) coming into the game. They’re an NCAA Tournament caliber team, who happen to be playing in the NIT. I think that’s what we saw, an NCAA caliber team playing on their home floor. Tip my cap to Coach Bennett and his team for sticking with it and playing a cohesive game of basketball.”

On the game:

“It was a game that was kind of disjointed, kind of uneven play on both sides of the ball. It didn’t feel like either team found a great rhythm. There were stretches were we went on a run and where Virginia went on a run, but in the end they had more runs than we did.”

On Justin Anderson and Virginia:

“I like him. They have a nice balance. I told Tony I think they’re an NCAA Tournament team. We played a number of tournament teams in the BIG EAST and beat some tournament teams. I think Virginia is tournament worthy and I think they could have won a couple games in the tournament.”

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