NEW YORK — London Perrantes described himself as passive. Tony Bennett, his coach, used adjectives like rusty and winded.
That was the first half for the Virginia guard who underwent an appendectomy nine days ago and missed two games as he recovered.
He turned out to be well enough to score all 13 of his points in the second half as the 10th-ranked Cavaliers beat No. 14 West Virginia 70-54 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
“I was a little passive. I just wanted to get back in the groove,” Perrantes said of the first half when he didn’t take a shot. “I felt I wasn’t myself. The best thing for me was to be aggressive. I was and I got my feet back.”
He shot 5 for 6 from the field in the second half including hitting all three of his 3-point attempts as the Cavaliers bounced back from a six-point halftime deficit to cruise over the final minutes.
“I don’t want to make an excuse for him. He was out and had an appendectomy,” Bennett said. “He practiced twice and it was a little intense yesterday but it’s the way it is in a game. He looked a little winded, a little rusty but he responded and that’s the beautiful thing.”
Anthony Gill had season highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia.
In the first game between the schools in 30 years, the Cavaliers (8-1) had trouble all game with West Virginia’s pressure and switching defenses. They trailed by as many as 12 points late in the first half.
When the second half started the Cavaliers didn’t stop committing turnovers but they hardly missed a shot in taking a 13-point lead with 3:57 to play.
Virginia shot 73.7 percent in the second half (14 of 19) and 62.8 percent for the game (27 of 43). Gill finished 9 of 11 from the field while Perrantes was 5 of 6.
“We were shaky to start. Everybody was with the pressure that West Virginia put on. We got punched in the mouth,” Bennett said. “We were to be within six at halftime but we clawed our way back a little bit. We looked lethargic but it’s a credit to them and how hard they play.
“London was disappointed in himself and he stepped up and hit some big shots and we needed him to handle the ball.”
Jaysean Paige had 16 points for West Virginia (7-1), which went cold from the field in the second half, missing everything from 3-point attempts to layups. The Mountaineers shot 30 percent in the second half (6 of 20) and finished 2 of 14 from 3-point range.
The Mountaineers missed seven of their first nine shots from the field in the second half while Virginia made six of its first nine.
“We can’t have people force people to commit 19 turnovers and then turn it over 18 times ourselves,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We can’t shoot 3s like that and we can’t have our starting guards go 2 for 17.”
Jevon Carter was 1 for 9 from the field and Daxter Miles Jr. was 1 for 8 including going 0 for 5 on 3s.
Virginia took the lead for good at 42-40 on a 3-pointer by Perrantes, who missed the last two games after undergoing an appendectomy. That stated an 11-3 run that gave the Cavaliers a seven-point lead and they were in control the rest of the way.
“I can’t imagine we’re as bad as we are,” Huggins said. “If we’re going to shoot it that bad we shouldn’t shoot it. I watch them every day. I know we take bad shots, out of rhythm, off balance. We don’t do a very good job of stepping into shots.”
This was the 17th meeting of the schools — each had won eight games — but it’s the first time they played since West Virginia’s 56-55 win in the first round of the 1985 NIT.
This was the Mountaineers’ second appearance in the Jimmy V Classic. They lost to Davidson in 2008. West Virginia entered with an all-time record of 32-44 at Madison Square Garden.
The Cavaliers came into the game ranked sixth nationally in points allowed at 57.5. Virginia is 6-7 all-time at Madison Square Garden.
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