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Despite losing Joe Harris early, Virginia bounces back with a win at Florida State

Jan 4, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT

bennett AP

The last time we saw the Virginia Cavaliers in action Tony Bennett’s squad looked bad, as they were outclassed on both ends Monday night in a blowout loss at Tennessee. With their best win coming at the expense of SMU, the Cavaliers entered ACC play in need of more quality wins. But who are the Cavaliers? A team many felt had the pieces needed to contend in the ACC didn’t have the results to match that belief, and their conference opener at Florida State didn’t have the appearance of a game Virginia could use to get back on track.

That wasn’t the case in Tallahassee on Saturday evening, as Virginia limited the Seminoles to 17 first-half points in their 62-50 victory. What makes the result even more impressive is the fact that they lost leading scorer Joe Harris to an injury just over two minutes into the game.

Offensively Virginia was balanced, with Justin Anderson leading four players in double figures with 16 points and Akil Mitchell grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers also grabbed 39.5% of its misses, taking advantage of an opponent that entered the game allowing an ACC-worst offensive rebounding percentage of 33.9%.

But with the Cavaliers shooting just 32.8% from the field, it was their defense that made the difference on Saturday. Florida State shot 30.8% from the field and 4-for-14 from beyond the arc, with the field goal percentage being well below the 48.7% Leonard Hamilton’s team was shooting entering Saturday. Add in 16 Seminole turnovers and it’s easy to see why Virginia was able to find a way to pick up a valuable win on the road.

So, who is Virginia? Honestly that remains a difficult question to answer, given the gap between their two performances this week. And there’s also the Harris injury to consider, because for as effective as Virginia was without him on Saturday they need him on the floor. We may still be without a definitive answer as to who the Cavaliers are and what their potential is but there’s still the talent needed to be a factor in the ACC, with Saturday’s result serving as a reminder.