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VIRGINIA MEN’S BASKETBALL

Virginia freshman Ryan Dunn makes the most of his minutes against Florida State

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Virginia Florida St Basketball

Virginia guard Ryan Dunn, left, drives to the basket as he is defended by Florida State guard Jalen Warley in the second half of the game in Tallahassee, Fla.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — He didn’t check in until there were less than six minutes to go before halftime on Saturday.

But freshman Ryan Dunn’s late first-half effort ensured he’d earn some additional playing time after the break during Virginia’s 67-58 win at Florida State.

“It’s being able to go out and play once your name is called,” Dunn said.

The 6-foot-8 wing from Freeport, N.Y. hadn’t played many meaningful moments lately entering the tilt with the Seminoles. He logged one minute for UVa in last week’s victory over North Carolina and did not play at all in the win against Syracuse on Jan. 7.

“You always stay positive,” Dunn said, “and you don’t think anything negative about it because once your name is called you do your best and you go out and compete, so it’s a mental thing also.”

He insists he was ready, and the initial offensive possession Dunn played revealed that much.

A missed jumper by guard Kihei Clark clanked off the rim and into the hands of a stretched-out Dunn, who leaped higher than Florida State forward Matthew Cleveland did for the rebound.

Dunn didn’t hesitate and put the ball right back up, but had it swatted away from behind by FSU’s helping defender Caleb Mills. Denied but not deterred, Dunn took another crack at a putback bucket, but was blocked again, this time by Cleveland.

Finally, after he corralled a rebound for the third time in the sequence — one following Clark’s miss and the others following the blocks — Dunn managed to power up once more, navigate a pair of defenders and lay the ball in to extend UVa’s lead to 29-19.

Dunn pounded his chest with excitement and gave a quick glance toward Cleveland.

“It got me going well,” Dunn said. “I got the first [rebound] and I was going to go up with it, but I got blocked and then I got blocked again. And they were talking a little bit, but once I made the layup, I got started and I just kept my motor going.”

He wasn’t the only one pleased with his hustle, either.

UVa coach Tony Bennett nearly fell over because he was so excited for Dunn.

“I yelled so hard that I almost passed out,” Bennett said, “and I could feel it. Sometimes you do that, the older you get when you exert yourself more. You’re like, ‘Whoa’ and then I had to steady myself, but I joked, ‘Are you padding your offensive rebounding stats?’ But that was great.”

Bennett said it was excellent to see succeed because he knew Dunn’s minutes were down over the past two weeks.

Dunn tallied nine points total and had four rebounds to go along with three blocks of his own over 16 minutes against the Seminoles.

He had a two-handed dunk in transition to grow UVa’s advantage to 56-40 and later in the second half, he cut to the basket for forward Ben Vander Plas to dish it to him for another two-handed jam — this one of the explosive, rim-shaking variety — with less than five minutes to play to keep the Hoos ahead by double digits.

Dunn also was one of a few Cavaliers — along with Vander Plas, Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin — to match up with Cleveland when FSU was on offense. UVa held Cleveland to just 10 points. He had scored at least 18 points in each of the Seminoles’ previous five contests.

“Our job was for him to stay in front,” Dunn said. “I had to use my length, and [Jayden Gardner], too, just to stay in front as much as possible and make shots tough for him.”

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