Virginia center Olden Polynice returned from his self-imposed layoff to a warm reception from a crowd of 7,603 tonight as the Cavaliers beat Randolph-Macon, 69-53.
Polynice, who left the team before Virginia's game with Duke on Dec. 8, cited pressure from the publicity surrounding his honor trial acquittal, returned to practice this week following final exams.
Although he missed an alley-oop slam dunk attempt, Polynice scored 11 points on four of six shooting from the floor and grabbed five rebounds in a 19-minute reserve role. "I was just excited about getting back to the court," Polynice said of his performance. "I'm still not used to the contact, but otherwise I'm back to the way I was."
The 6-foot-11 sophomore scored 10 of his points in a 12-minute stretch of the second half.
The Division II Yellow Jackets (5-4) rallied from a 35-25 halftime deficit mainly on their work inside. Despite giving away almost three inches per man up front, Randolph-Macon scored four baskets inside on a 10-1 run starting the half that cut Virginia's lead to 36-35 with 15:34 to play. The Jackets missed two chances to take the lead and then Cavaliers guard Tim Mullen, who led all scorers with 16 points, hit a jumper from the base line at the 14:00 mark. Polynice followed 30 seconds later off an offensive rebound.
The Cavaliers' Darrick Simms, of Alexandria, and Randolph-Macon's Mike Boyer traded baskets, and then Mullen scored with another jump shot and a layup for a 46-37 Virginia lead with 10:34 left.
The Jackets got no closer than seven points thereafter and Virginia (5-3) increased its advantage to 67-49 with 1:30 remaining.
Jesse Hellyer led four Randolph-Macon players in double figures with 12 points.