No. 1 Virginia avoids 2nd straight huge NCAA tourney upset

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — No. 1 seed Virginia this year avoided the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.

The Cavaliers rallied from 14 points down Friday to beat No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb 71-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia was the top overall seed last year but lost 74-54 to 16th seeded UMBC. It was the first — and still the only — time in 35 years one of the top four teams in the tournament has fallen in their opening game.

The Cavaliers trailed 30-16 with 6:42 left in the first half but rallied and cut the Runnin’ Bulldogs lead to six at halftime. Virginia then opened the second half with a 25-5 run that ended any ideas of another 1-and-done.

The Cavaliers used their trademark stifling defense to force 11 Gardner-Webb turnovers in the first 12 minutes after the break.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett told his team all season they needed to turn last year’s disaster into something positive.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/MarchMadness and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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