CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (AP/WWBT) - Virginia has rolled mostly untested through its nonconference schedule, and with the third-ranked Cavaliers playing their final tuneup before heading into Atlantic Coast Conference play, Davidson gave them just what they needed.
The Wildcats put the Cavaliers on their heels early with some dead-eye outside shooting, rallied three times to get back to even after Virginia had gone ahead and made the home team fight harder than they had all year for an 83-72 victory.
"We haven't been in a game like that this year and for us to go out there and be down at halftime like we were and fight back like we did, it was good for the whole team just to experience that kind of win," forward Anthony Gill said after leading the comeback with a career-best 25 points and 13 rebounds.
"To go out there and have to fight and scratch and dig for a win was good."
Gill played as advertised, Davidson coach Bob McKillop said, and the Wildcats could do little about it.
"Our scouting report was that he's very crafty, he's got terrific touch, he shoots it like a feather inside and he has extra effort on the glass," McKillop said.
Justin Anderson sparked the rally with back-to-back 3-pointers to fuel a 12-3 after Davidson pulled even at 55. The first came off a feed from Gill down low, the second when London Perrantes found him in the right corner with a high pass.
"It was a questionable shot, but because it went in, I don't think I heard too much from it," Anderson said.
The victory was the 18th straight at home for the Cavaliers, who reached 12-0 for the first time since three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson was a junior in 1981-82, and Anderson, too, appreciated the grittiness of the victory.
"I'll take the situation that we had today in the first half over a lot of what we've seen so far because it can be much worse when you are down like that on the road with the crowd and adversity," he said. "For us to see adversity, I was like, "I love this' because it's a chance to fight, push through and see what this team is all about.
"I thought we did a great job answering the challenge."
The game was the final out of conference game for both programs.
Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points, Anderson 14 and Darion Atkins 13 points and 10 rebounds for Virginia.
Jack Gibbs scored 21 before fouling out to lead Davidson (9-2), which had a seven-game winning streak snapped. The Wildcats also got 20 from Tyler Kalinoski and 14 from Brian Sullivan and while the Wildcats' point total was the highest allowing by Virginia's top-ranked defense this year, it was still well shy of their nation-leading 87.7 scoring average.
Virginia used a 14-4 run spanning the halves to take its first lead since early. The Wildcats rallied to tie it three times, but then Anderson got free for a 3-pointer from the left corner, and followed a Davidson miss with another from the right side.
After a layup by Atkins gave the Cavaliers a 63-55 lead, Sullivan hit a 3-pointer for the Wildcats, briefly slowing the surge, but Gill scored inside and Atkins tipped in a miss, making it 67-58.
The Wildcats had lost 18 of their last 19 against ranked foes and were 14-89 all-time in those games.
Virginia's ranking is its highest in-season since the final poll of the 1982-83 season, when they were No. 2.
Virginia outscored the Wildcats 40-26 in the paint and outrebounded them 42-25.
Davidson hosts Richmond in its Atlantic 10 debut on Jan. 3.
Virginia opens its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Miami on Jan. 3.