Virginia suffocates Tigers

Virginia suffocates Tigers

Basketball

Virginia suffocates Tigers

Clemson’s 36 points are the lowest in 19 seasons

A lot of people wondered how 17th-ranked Clemson might respond without team leader and second leading scorer Donte Grantham when it traveled to No. 2 Virginia Tuesday night.

They discovered the Tigers did not fair too well without Grantham, who tore his ACL in last Saturday’s win over Notre Dame. Of course, playing the nation’s top scoring defense might have something to do with that as well.

The Cavaliers suffocated Clemson all night, especially in the second half as they cruised to a 61-36 victory at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va. The Tigers’ 36 points represented the lowest point total for a Clemson men’s basketball team since November 28, 1999 when Oregon State held Clemson to 35 points.

The only other time since then the Tigers scored less than 40 points in a game came in 2006 when Miami beat Clemson 62-38 in Coral Gables, Fla.

Clemson (16-4, 5-3 ACC) had its worst shooting performance of the season as well, making just 32 percent from the field.

After taking a 23-16 lead with 6:26 to play in the first half, the Tigers scored just four points over the next 16 minutes and 18 seconds as Virginia grabbed control of the game.

The Cavaliers engineered a back-breaking 36-6 run during a 19-minute and 39-second stretch.

Aamir Simms, who started in place of the injured Grantham, made a three-pointer with 6:26 to play in the first half to give Clemson a seven-point lead, 23-16. The seven points marked the Tigers’ largest lead of the night and the largest deficit in ACC play for Virginia this season.

They were also the last points of the half for Clemson as the Cavaliers closed the first with an 11-0 run to take a 27-23 lead at the break.

Clemson was not much better in the second half as it failed to get anything going. The Tigers made just 6-of-24 shots in the second frame. They were 3-of-20 overall from three-point range.

Virginia (19-1, 8-0 ACC) proved why it is the No. 2 team in the country as it forced 19 Clemson turnovers for a 25-8 advantage in points off turnovers.

The Cavaliers outscored the Tigers 34-13 in the second half and 45-13 over the final 26 minutes.

Clemson played well in the first 14 minutes of the game. After Virginia grabbed an early 7-0 lead, the Tigers fought back thanks to 11 straight points as Simms and Gabe DeVoe made buckets in the run.

The Cavaliers responded with another 7-0 run to take a 14-11 lead, but DeVoe again made a couple of baskets underneath and Mark Donnal drained a three-pointer. Simms later hit a three-pointer of his own and Clemson had a 23-16 lead with 6:26 to play in the first half.

However, the Tigers went cold from there and started turning the basketball over. It did not help that Clemson’s leading scorer, Marcquise Reed, was held to six points and was 3-of-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from three-point range.

Point guard Shelton Mitchell did not score and was 0-for-3 from the field and turned the basketball over three times.

DeVoe, who made 4 of his first 5 shots to start the game, did not score in the second half and went 0-for-5 in the last 20 minutes. DeVoe finished with 11 points to lead the Tigers, while Simms finished with 9 points and had 6 rebounds in his first career start.

Elijah Thomas was also shut down. The Clemson center had just 2 points and 4 rebounds and was 1-for-3 from the field.

Clemson will travel to Georgia Tech on Sunday at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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