Virginia Battles Norfolk State in NIT First Round Action

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Virginia hosts Norfolk State in NIT first-round action on March 19.

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Virginia hosts Norfolk State in NIT first-round action on March 19.
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
 Norfolk State at Virginia
 Date & Time Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 9 p.m.
 Location Charlottesville, Va. | John Paul Jones Arena
 Coverage ESPNU | Listen on Cavaliers Live | Gametracker
 Additional Information 2012-13 Ticket Information | Twitter | Facebook | Game Notes

No. 1 seed Virginia (21-11) will host No. 8 seed Norfolk State (21-11) in the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday, March 19. Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 9 p.m.

The Virginia-Norfolk State game will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on the Virginia Sports Radio Network.

The winner will advance to the second round against the winner of St. John's and Saint Joseph's. Second-round games are scheduled for March 21-25.

Virginia is making its 13th NIT appearance and first under fourth-year head coach Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers claimed NIT championships in 1980 and 1992 and are appearing in the tournament for the first time since 2006. Virginia is 15-10 all-time in the NIT.

The Cavaliers are 1-0 all-time against Norfolk State, defeating the Spartans, 50-49, on Dec. 20, 2010. Virginia is 19-0 all-time against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents, including a 75-57 win over Morgan State at JPJ on Dec. 19, 2012.

The Cavaliers are coming off a disappointing 75-56 loss against NC State in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. Akil Mitchell (Charlotte, N.C.) led Virginia in scoring and rebounding for the fourth consecutive game with 19 points and eight rebounds. Joe Harris (Chelan, Wash.) added 13 points and Jontel Evans (Hampton, Va.) had a game-high seven assists.

All-ACC performers Harris (first team), Mitchell (third team) and Evans (All-Defensive) lead the Cavaliers into postseason action. Harris ranks fourth in the ACC in scoring at 16.9 ppg and Mitchell ranks third in rebounding at 8.9 rpg. Evans leads Virginia with 114 assists.

The Cavaliers, who earned an at-large bid into the NIT, rank in the top 12 nationally in five defensive categories, highlighted by their fourth-ranked scoring defense at 55.1 points per game. Offensively Virginia is averaging 64 points per game overall, shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3-point land.

Freshman Justin Anderson (Montross, Va.) leads Virginia rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocked shots. Sophomore Paul Jesperson (Merrill, Wis.) has made at least one 3-pointer in 12 consecutive games.

Freshman Mike Tobey, who made his second career start against NC State, is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in the last three games.

Bennett sports a 74-52 record, including a 1-0 mark against Norfolk State, in four seasons at Virginia. Bennett, who guided the Cavaliers to their first NCAA Tournament since 2006-07 last season, is the first Virginia coach to post back-to-back 20-win seasons since Jeff Jones in 1991-92 and 1992-93. Bennett has a 3-4 postseason record as a Division I head coach.

Norfolk State earned the MEAC's automatic bid to the NIT by winning the conference's regular season title with a 16-0 mark. The Spartans were upset by Bethune-Cookman, 70-68, in overtime in the MEAC Tournament quarterfinals. Norfolk State is making its second straight postseason appearance since moving to Division I in 1997. No. 15 seed Norfolk State upset No. 2 seed Missouri, 86-84, in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Guard Pendarvis Williams leads the Spartans in scoring at 14.1 points per game. Guard Malcolm Hawkins averages 11.8 ppg and forward Rob Johnson has chipped in 9.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Center Brandon Goode leads the team with 5.4 rebounds per game.

Head coach Anthony Evans has a 99-93 record in six seasons at Norfolk State. He guided the Spartans to the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Tickets for Virginia's first-round NIT game are on sale. Reserved tickets are $10 each. Fans may also purchase tickets through the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office by telephone and in person. The ticket office is located in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium and open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Telephone purchases can be made by calling 800-542-UVA1 (8821) or locally at 434-924-UVA1 (8821).

Parking will be free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis in the John Paul Jones Arena, University Hall and McCue Center parking lots and the Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage. The John Paul Jones Arena Garage will be reserved for permit holders. The University Hall and John Paul Jones Arena parking lots are also available for baseball fans attending Tuesday's game against Yale that starts at 5 p.m.

Should Virginia advance in the NIT and host a second and/or third-round game, tickets will be sold for $10 each and available for purchase shortly after the second-round opponent is determined.

Tickets will not be available for sale through the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office for away games in the NIT.