NEW YORK — Marcquise Reed says Clemson is going to play with a chip on its shoulder when it takes on top-ranked Virginia today (7 p.m.) in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The last time these two teams met, the Cavaliers handed the Tigers their worst defeat of the season in Charlottesville, while holding them to 36 points … the lowest point total for a Clemson team since 1999.
At one point, Virginia (29-2) outscored the Tigers 36-6 in route to a 61-36 victory.
“Obviously, they hit us pretty good the last time we played, so we will come prepared to play,” Reed said.
Clemson (23-8) had a 23-16 lead on the Cavaliers with 6:26 to play in the first half, but then it went cold. The Tigers not score the rest of the first half and only scored 13 points in the second half.
They also shot a season-low 32 percent from the field.
Reed and fellow guards Shelton Mitchell and Gabe DeVoe combined to score just 17 points and were 7-of-23 from the field with 10 turnovers.
“The first time we played them, they played pretty packed in,” Reed said. “A lot of ball reversal and a lot of ball movement are good against their defense.”
The Tigers played one of their better games in their quarterfinal win over Boston College on Thursday. They connected on 47 percent of their shots, made 20-of-22 free throws, had just seven turnovers and scored a school-record 90 points in an ACC Tournament game. Reed, Mitchell and DeVoe combined for 58 points, made six of Clemson’s 12 three-pointers and had just three turnovers.
Though those numbers are good, the Tigers know comparing Boston College’s style of defense to Virginia’s is not even close to being the same.
Clemson feels good about scoring more than 36 points this time around against the Cavaliers, but it also knows it is not going to score 90 either.
“What’s the average? We’ll take the average (today),” Brownell said. “What’s different about their defense? I mean, they just do everything really well. They’re unbelievably sound. Tony (Bennett) obviously is as good a coach as there is in our game.
“I think sometimes Virginia, because they play slow on offense, they don’t get enough credit for how good their players are. I think sometimes everybody gets so into their scheme, but you don’t win 17 out of 18 ACC games unless you have really good players. And they’re big, they’re athletic, and they’re obviously very sound fundamentally. So they just do a lot of really good things. They’re difficult to play against.”
The good news for the Tigers is they did get a career-high 10 points from Aamir Simms, who replaced the injured Donte Grantham in the lineup, against his home-state Cavaliers back on Jan. 23. Simms also added 10 points and had nine rebounds in the win over Boston College.
A.J. Oliver came off the bench and added nine points to help the Tigers’ cause on Thursday as well. If the Tigers can get production from its role players today and have their big-four, including center Elijah Thomas, play well then they’ll have an opportunity to knock off the Cavaliers and advance to the third ACC Championship Game in school history.
“We take it from our football team, next man up,” Thomas said. “We practice so hard. We put so much preparation into this summer that we feel like if someone goes down, the next guy can step up and do great things.
“Aamir Simms has done that this year. Malik William has done that this year, David Skara, Mark Donnal, the freshmen. We have a pretty good and successful season so far and we just want to continue to get better and better.”