Despite scoring just 14 points in the first half Wednesday, Clemson found itself with an opportunity to tie or take the lead twice with a little more than five minutes to play at Virginia. However, Clyde Trapp missed a three-pointer with 5:22 to go and then Tevin Mack did the same six seconds later.
Virginia’s Braxton Key followed with a three-pointer with 4:50 remaining on the other end to extend the lead back to five points, as the Cavaliers hung on to beat the Tigers for an eighth straight time with a 51-44 victory in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The loss was Clemson’s second straight and the second straight time it scored just 44 points in a game this season. The Tigers scored just 44 points, which ties a season-low, in their loss at Wake Forest last Saturday.
With the loss, Clemson falls to 11-11 overall and 5-7 in the ACC, while Virginia improves to 15-6 overall and 7-4 in conference play.
Clemson fell to 2-10 this year in games in which it failed to score 70 points. In three of those losses, the Tigers failed to reach 50 points, scoring just 45 points against Yale in non-conference play back in December.
Aamir Simms led the Tigers with 16 points, while Al-Amir Dawes scored a career-high 11 points and had eight rebounds in a losing effort.
Clemson trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but slowly it started to chip away at the Cavaliers lead. Mack started the comeback with a layup with 13:32 to go on an assist from John Newman.
Trailing by eight pints, Clemson went on a 6-0 run to cut the UVa lead to 36-34 with 6:03 to play following a Simms’ three-pointer. The Tigers then got a defensive stop after a Kody Stattmanm miss, but they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Trapp missed his three from the right side and then Mack missed a straight away look to end the rally. Key then extend the lead to five points, 39-34, on Virginia’s ensuing possession with a three-pointer from the corner with 4:50 to play.
Clemson cut the lead to three points, 42-39, following a Newman layup with 2:19 to play, but they could not draw any closer.
Virginia was led by Key’s game-high 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He was 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Mamadi Diakite added 13 points for the Cavaliers, while Jay Huff added 10 points and had 10 rebounds.
The story of the game was Clemson’s inability to do much of anything in the first 20 minutes. The Cavaliers led 26-14 at the break.
Overall, Clemson connected on just 17-of-52 shots (32.7 percent) and were 6-of-28 (21.4 percent) from behind the arc. Tigers were just 4-of-7 from the foul line, while Virginia was 10-of-17.
The Cavaliers shot just 37 percent from the field, but they were 7-of-20 on threes.
Clemson will next host Notre Dame at 6 p.m., Sunday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
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