Tigers have dropped 11 straight to Virginia
It was not a good night for No. 12 Clemson.
The Tigers had their worst night of the year both offensively and defensively Saturday as No. 18 Virginia ran all over them in an 85-50 loss at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson. The win was Virginia’s 11th straight over the Tigers.
“Tony and his guys were really ready and played an unbelievable game. They executed extremely well,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “That’s a hard team to play after a long break. We were a step slower and they certainly had a lot to do with that.
“A lot of the credit goes to Virginia, they smashed us today.”
Clemson led the ACC in scoring defense coming into Saturday’s game, allowing just 57.6 points per game. The most points the Tigers allowed in a game prior to Virginia’s 85 points was 70 against Purdue and NC State.
It did not help that the Cavaliers, who have now won 13 straight ACC games, shot 56 percent from behind the three-point line (15-for-27) and were 34-for-56 from the field overall or 61 percent.
To make matters worse, Clemson ranked third in the ACC in three-point defense before Saturday’s debacle. The Tigers were allowing teams to shot just 29.9 percent from behind the arch.
Virginia (9-2, 5-0 ACC) was averaging 72 points a game coming in, the highest per game average in the Tony Bennett era.
“You lose a little bit of your fight and we aren’t the most talented team in the league, we have to really work at it and play together,” Brownell said. “Tonight, we just couldn’t do that and they did and it was too much to handle tonight.”
Things were not much better on the offense end for Clemson. The Tigers shot 40 percent from the field but were just 5-for-23 from three-point range.
Clemson (9-2, 3-2 ACC) did not have a single player in double digits, as freshman P.J. Hall led the team with eight points. Hunter Tyson had seven points, along with John Newman. Leading scorer Aamir Simms finished the night with just two points on 1-of-9 shooting. He was 0-for-4 from three-point range.
The Cavaliers were led by Thomas Woldetensae and Sam Hauser with 14 points. They had five players score at least 12 points. Trey Murphy added 13 points, while Kihei Clark and Sam Huff added 12 points to the cause.
Virginia took a 33-17 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to a 29-5 run to start the game, which was the largest lead in the opening minutes.
After an 11-day break due to a pause in the program, because of COVID concerns, Clemson opened the evening by making just 1 of its first 13 shots from the field.
“We came in with the right mentality but early on we couldn’t make shots and they did,” Tyson said. “Next thing you know we looked up at the scoreboard and are down 13. We made a run at the end of the half, but when we came out [in the second half] they got on another run.”
Clemson went 10:30 without scoring a single point after Simms made a jump shot on the Tigers’ first possession of the game. They then went the next 11 minutes and 48 seconds without a field goal. That allowed the Cavaliers to build a 29-5 lead.
Clark and Woldetensae at one point had more points than Clemson, when the Tigers were trailing 31-7. Huff had seven points at that point in the game.
However, there was some good news for the Tigers, they ended the first half on a 10-2 run thanks to seven points from Tyson. But that was short lived. After Clemson got the first bucket of the second half to cut the lead to 14 points, 33-19, the Cavaliers went on a 10-0 run which all but ended things for the Tigers.
Clemson will play Georgia Tech on Wednesday in Atlanta at 7 p.m.
“I’d love to say we will flush it and snap back on Wednesday, but we will see,” Brownell said. “I have a lot of confidence in our team and staff. We have seen it in ten of 11 games, I have confidence we will battle back and be there again.”