Justin Anderson scored 15 points, including four key free throws in the final minutes, and Virginia overcame a sloppy offensive performance to beat Norfolk State 67-56 in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
Akil Mitchell also had 15 for the Cavaliers (22-11), who won despite missing 15 free throws and 18 turnovers.
Rob Johnson scored 19 and Pendarvis Williams had 14 for the Spartans (21-12), who lost their second straight. Norfolk State had gone unbeaten in 16 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games before losing is first MEAC tournament game.
The Spartans managed only five points in the last 11 1/2 minutes of the first half and trailed 26-16 at the break.
They closed to within 47-44 with 5:41 left before two free throws by Evan Nolte, four free throws and a jumper by Anderson and then a 15-foot jumper by Anderson gave them some breathing room at 55-47.