Clemson now waits to see where it will play in the NCAA Tournament
NEW YORK — For all the talk about how things would be different this time around for Clemson when it played top-ranked Virginia in Friday’s semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament, it sure did look the same, at least in the first half.
Like the last time when these two met in Charlottesville, Va., the Tigers jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first half, only to go cold and watch Virginia close the half with another big run to seize control of the game.
This time around, Clemson missed its last 10 field goals of the first half and were outscored 19-3 in the last 9:32. The Cavaliers, like they have done all season when they got a comfortable lead, never let up on the defensive end, beating the No. 4 seed Tigers 64-58 to advance to Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.
“Everyone knows how great of a defensive team they are,” Clemson guard Shelton Mitchell said afterward. “They make it hard for teams to score because they pack the lane in.
“That was a big run. They kept on getting stops and it felt like we could not stop them at the time.”
Clemson (23-9) will head home and wait to see where the NCAA selection committee will send them in next week’s NCAA Tournament. The selection show will be on Sunday.
“That is huge,” Mitchell said. “Like everyone knows, we have not been in the tournament in a long time. For most of our guys we have never been in the tournament, including me. We’re excited.”
As for what happened on Friday night, the Tigers tried to rally at the beginning of the second half after Elijah Thomas completed a three-point play with 16:17 to play. However, Virginia answered with a 10-0 run of its own and led by as many as 14 points in the second half.
After Thomas’ three-point play, they went another 4:27 without a basket.
Clemson did get within five points late, but the Cavaliers were able to hold them off and get the win.
The Tigers jumped out to a 20-13 lead following a Gabe DeVoe layup with 9:32 to play in the half. DeVoe’s basket at the time capped an 8-0 run in which the Tigers appeared to be in command of the game. During the run David Skara completed a three-point play and Mitchell hit a soft jumper.
But the Tigers went cold from there and Kyle Guy and the Cavaliers made them pay with their 19-3 run to close the half. Guy scored 8 of Virginia’s 19 points in the run, including a three-pointer with 41 seconds to play before halftime.
Virginia (30-2) led 32-23 at the break.
Marcquise Reed was a no show for the Tigers. The All-ACC guard struggled all night as he scored six points on 2-of-13 shooting, including 1-for-10 from behind the arc.
“Give them credit. They played good defense,” he said. “I had an off night.”
After an early layup and three by DeVoe, the senior went cold as well, as he finished the night with 8 points and was 3-for-9 from the field and turned the ball over three times.
Mitchell led Clemson with 18 points, while shooting 5-of-11 from the field. Thomas scored 15 points and had seven rebounds for the Tigers.
Guy led Virginia with 15 points.
The Cavaliers held Clemson to 35 percent from the field after holding them to 32 percent shooting back on Jan. 23. The Tigers were 5-for-25 from three-point range. Virginia also outrebounded Clemson 37 to 32.