By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Joe Harris scored nine of his 15 points in the opening minutes of the second half Monday night and Virginia rallied to beat Fairfield 54-45 in the NIT Season Tip-off.
Akil Mitchell had 12 points and Evan Nolte added 11 for the Cavaliers (1-1), who will play in the second round Tuesday night.
Josip Mikulic scored 13 points and Derek Needham and Desmond Wade had 10 each for Fairfield (1-1). The Stags scored only 15 points in the second half, making just 5 of 24 shots. In the first half, they were 12 for 23 with six 3-pointers, including three in as many tries by the 7-foot Mikulic.
Harris scored nine of the Cavaliers' first 11 points in the second half, including a 15-foot jumper with 17 minutes left that gave them their first lead at 33-32.
Virginia stretched its margin to 42-37 as the Stags went 5 minutes without a point, but Desmond Wade made a pair of free throws for Fairfield and Colin Nickerson followed several Cavaliers' misses with a layup at the other end, making it a one-point game with 8:45 to go. Fairfield added just two field goals the rest of the way.
Virginia was playing its second game without starting point guard and team captain Jontel Evans and backup point guard Malcolm Brogdon, both of whom are recovering from surgeries. Coach Tony Bennett used several players at the point, but Harris was in charge in the closing moments.
He fed Mitchell for a basket with 4:08 to play that gave Virginia a 51-45 lead, and after neither team scored for more than a minute, Harris' 10-foot jumper stretched the lead to eight and the Cavaliers were never challenged again.
Expectations in Blacksburg and Charlottesville are high for their new coaches, just not among the media.
With Justin Fuente taking over for Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech and Broncon Mendenhall for Mike London at Virginia, the media is not expecting much from either coach in their first season. Virginia Tech was picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division in the ACC Media Poll while Virginia was picked dead last.
Here are the full results with first place votes in parentheses:
1. North Carolina (121) - 1,238
2. Miami (50) - 1,108
3. Pitt (14) - 859
4. Virginia Tech (3) - 697
5. Duke (2) - 597
6. Georgia Tech (1) - 588
7. Virginia - 261
1. Clemson (148) - 1,293
2. Florida State (42) - 1,176
3. Lousiville (1) - 961
4. NC State - 704
5. Boston College - 441
6. Syracuse - 426
7. Wake Forest - 347
1. Clemson - 144
2. Florida State - 39
3. North Carolina - 7
4. Louisville - 1
Fourth is the lowest Virginia Tech has been picked since the ACC split into divisions in 2005. The good news for both Hokies and Cavaliers fans is that the media is almost always wrong when it comes to these polls. Last year's Coastal winner, North Carolina, was picked to finish fifth in last year's poll.
The lowest Virginia Tech has been picked to finish in the ACC was sixth in 2004, the Hokies' first year in the league. Virginia Tech went on to win the conference that year and played in the Sugar Bowl.
RELATED: TMZ RELEASES VIDEO OF MARCUS VICK RUNNING FROM POLICE
Marcus Vick has had a tough day.
First, he decided to start a Twitter beef with Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy. Vick insinuated on Twitter that his ex-girlfriend contracted an STD from McCoy. (You can read the Tweets here but please note they contain explicit language).
As if that wasn't dumb enough, TMZ released video of Vick running from police in an April incident that resulted in his arrest.
In the video, three Cops are standing around Vick when he takes off. He makes it outside and down the sidewalk. It looks like he may get away, but then he sits down and gives himself up as a cop approaches with his gun drawn.
Vick was wanted for contempt of court in Montgomery County. As officers attempted to arrest Vick, he instead chose to flee from the police. That's right, Vick fled from police over a contempt of court charge. He ultimately pled guilty to resisting arrest.
RELATED: HALL TO BE INDUCTED INTO VT HALL OF FAME
Former Virginia Tech standout and current Washington Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the school has announced.
Hall played for the Hokies from 2001 to 2003, catching an interception as a true freshman in the very first game of his collegiate career. He was a dynamic player for Virginia Tech on defense, offense and special teams, scoring touchdowns in all three phases of the game. Hall remains the only player in school history to return two punts for touchdowns in the same game which he did in 2003 against Syracuse. He also played a major role in one of the biggest wins in program history, a 31-7 win over No. 2 Miami in 2003 in which Hall scored a touchdown on a strip and return.
The Chesapeake, Va. native was named an All-American after the 2003 season. He left Virginia Tech after three years and was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2004 NFL Draft. He is now in his eighth season in Washington.
Kerri Gardin, Kevin Jones, Spyridon Jullien, Ashlee Lee and Jim Weaver will also be inducted with Hall. The ceremony will take place on Sept. 16 and all six will be introduced the following day during halftime of Virginia Tech's game against Boston College.
RELATED: VIRGINIA TECH LANDS FOUR COMMITMENTS SATURDAY