No. 13 Virginia finds its way past Clemson to end two-game skid


CHARLOTTESVILLE — For most of one half, the No. 13 Virginia men’s basketball team produced a somewhat cohesive offense showing. That wound up being enough to hold off Clemson for a 64-57 victory Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.

By ending a two-game skid, the Cavaliers secured a double bye into the quarterfinals of next week’s ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C. Virginia (22-6, 14-5) moved into a tie for second place with Miami but loses the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Hurricanes, who like the Cavaliers have one game remaining.

Jayden Gardner, Armaan Franklin and Isaac McKneely scored 12 points apiece for the Cavaliers, who made 12 of 26 shots from the field (46.2 percent) in the second half and sealed the outcome at the foul line.

“Our defense got us some offense early,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said. “We just worked, made them earn it. It was far from perfect, but it was what we needed, and we tried to move hard and work hard offensively and be true to who we were — or who we are, I should say. We weren’t going to score 90 against Clemson. They’re playing terrific ball.”

Virginia scored its most points since outlasting Duke in overtime, 69-62, on Feb. 11. It also stifled one of the ACC’s more robust offenses, limiting the Tigers to their fewest points in eight games. Clemson (21-9, 13-6) had scored at least 91 points in three of its past four games and came in averaging more than 76.

NCAA men’s tournament bracketology: Michigan can play its way in

The closest Clemson came in the closing stages was 59-55 with 31 seconds to play on Chase Hunter’s three-pointer. But the Cavaliers, who led by as many as 14 points in the second half, made 5 of 6 free throws from there.

PJ Hall led the Tigers with 19 points, and Hunter Tyson added 17 points and nine rebounds but went 6 for 16 from the field, including 3 for 11 on three-pointers. Clemson shot just five free throws, making four, compared with the Cavaliers’ 15-for-22 showing.

A 13-2 run, including nine straight points, bumped the Cavaliers’ lead to 41-27 with 12:46 left. Franklin had the final five points, beginning with a three-pointer on an assist from Kihei Clark, and added a foul line jumper that prompted Clemson Coach Brad Brownell to call a timeout.

“To win at a place like Virginia, the margin is small,” Brownell said. “They played a little better than us today.”

Virginia took a 28-23 lead into halftime after overcoming 0-for-8 shooting to start the game. That drought included missed layups, a crippling trend recently for the Cavaliers, by Franklin and Clark; the latter missed all seven of his field goal attempts.

“We were getting great shots throughout the game,” said freshman Ryan Dunn, who scored Virginia’s first points on a lob from Reece Beekman and finished with 10 on 3-for-3 shooting. “They just weren’t falling, so I knew stuff was going to fall. Once I got that lob, it started a run.”

Here’s what else to know about Virginia’s win:

Alternate lineup provides spark

Bennett deployed an unconventional lineup midway through the first half comprising Clark; top reserves McKneely and Dunn, both freshmen; and seldom-used Francisco Caffaro and Taine Murray. The group thrived to help Virginia take a 17-7 lead with 10:12 to play.

Dunn’s teammates have called him the most athletic player on the roster. He closed the surge with a three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer followed by a reverse layup that brought the late-arriving crowd of 14,351 to its feet.

“They had practiced well, and the physicality of Papi is real,” Bennett said of his reasons for playing Caffaro, referring to him by his nickname, and Murray. “They had practiced well last week and the two practices we had [before Tuesday’s game]. I thought we needed the physicality, needed the energy. I thought they gave us a nice lift.”

Virginia finished with just eight turnovers, making this the eighth consecutive game in which the Cavaliers were in single digits. They entered second in the country in fewest turnovers per game (8.7).

Clark and Beekman, the Cavaliers’ primary ballhandlers, combined for 14 assists and two turnovers against Clemson, boosting Virginia’s standing as the national leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.82) coming into the week. Beekman, a junior, is first in the ACC in that category (3.3), and Clark, a fifth-year senior, is second (2.9).

Feinstein: Terry Holland coached basketball his way. It changed Virginia sports.

The Cavaliers honored late coach Terry Holland with a moment of silence before tip-off. Holland, who retired in 1990 as the program’s career leader in wins, died Sunday in Charlottesville of complications stemming from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80.

Source link

Source: News

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *