Virginia Makes Clemson Look Like a High School Hoops Team in Rematch

By Brian Swanson
Geoff Burke – USA TODAY Sports

The University of Virginia humiliated the Clemson Tigers on Thursday Feb. 7 by a final score of 78-41. How is it that the Cavaliers, who lost to Clemson by 14 points less than a month ago, were able to completely annihilate the Tigers on this meeting?

Gaining home-court advantage for their most recent match-up unquestionably aided UVA, but it was the substantial advantage in field goal percentage and turnovers that set the stage for the blowout win.

Clemson shot just 30.8% on the evening, making just one 3-pointer out of 17 attempts. Their third best scorer, Milton Jennings, shot a dismal 1-for-7 on the night, and missed all three of his attempts from behind the arc. Adversely, Virginia shot an efficient 56.6% from the field making 10 threes out of 21.

Clearly the Tigers had an abnormal night from the floor, as they normally shoot 43.9% from the floor, but their high amount of turnovers point to poor execution all around.

Clemson turned the ball over 18 times, while Virginia had a total of just six. That large of a margin in turnovers causes a drastic swing in points to favor the Cavaliers.

Junior forward Akil Mitchell continues to be a defensive anchor for head coach Tony Bennett. Mitchell turned in four steals and a block. Also providing a boost defensively was freshman guard Justin Anderson with three steals and a block of his own. Anderson, who has become a legitimate scoring threat, finished the game with 14 points including a monster reverse dunk on an alley-oop pass from Jontel Evans.

Miraculously Clemson out-rebounded Virginia 30-24, but 12 of those rebounds were offensive coming off of their own plethora of missed shots. Seeing the final score, it does not appear they capitalized on too many of those second chance opportunities.

Junior guard Joe Harris scored 21 points on 70% shooting to lead all scorers. Virginia has looked good overall this season, but if they want a chance to contend in the ACC tournament, they will need to protect the ball like they did against Clemson on Feb. 7. Also, they depend on Harris and Mitchell to score in double figures, while Mitchell should be pulling down a large number of boards.

They could surprise people this year, but expect their success to fade out when they face North Carolina, Miami, and Duke later this month.


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