Virginia loses star Justin Anderson to a fractured finger

The Dagger
Virginia loses star Justin Anderson to a fractured finger
Virginia loses star Justin Anderson to a fractured finger

A devastating injury tempered Virginia's joy at having concluded the toughest stretch of its schedule with a 52-47 victory over Louisville.

The third-ranked Cavaliers lost second-leading scorer Justin Anderson for four to six weeks because of a fractured finger on his left hand.

Anderson suffered the injury during Saturday's first half and did not return after halftime. He will undergo surgery on Sunday in hopes of speeding up his return as much as possible. 

The timetable given by Virginia suggests Anderson will not return in time for the Cavaliers' regular season finale at Louisville on March 7 but could be back during the postseason. The quarterfinals of the ACC tournament are less than five weeks away and the opening round of the NCAA tournament tips off less than six weeks from today.

Virginia will miss Anderson during his absence because he has been one of the key figures in the team's 21-1 start so far this season.

Whereas the 6-foot-6 wing was just a slasher as a freshman and sophomore, he has nearly doubled his scoring average by showcasing a far more consistent outside shot this season. More than one third of Virginia's threes this season are from Anderson, who is averaging 13.4 points and shooting 50 percent from behind the arc.

Virginia still has a good chance to win a second straight ACC regular season title even without Anderson because it has already built a lead of two or more games in the loss column over everyone else in the conference. Furthermore, the Cavaliers are already done with Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame and they don't face another upper-echelon opponent until the rematch with Louisville in the ACC finale.

Nonetheless, even coach Tony Bennett would probably concede Virginia needs Anderson at close to full strength to have a realistic chance at a deep NCAA tournament run. 

Virginia shot only 2 of 14 from behind the arc Saturday against Louisville. More shooting nights like that may be in store for the Cavaliers until Anderson returns to the floor.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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