Cavaliers crush Tigers, 78-41

Clemson center Devin Booker and Virginia forward Darion Atkins compete for a rebound in the first half.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson center Devin Booker and Virginia forward Darion Atkins compete for a rebound in the first half.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia coach Tony Bennett was looking for a little more strength and a little more energy when he inserted freshman Justin Anderson into the starting lineup against Clemson in place of fellow freshman Evan Nolte, who has been prone to foul trouble and has been struggling with his shot.

Anderson made the move look brilliant Thursday night with 14 points, two assists, three steals and a highlight reel dunk on a night when everything went Virginia’s way. The Cavaliers led Clemson 38-10 at halftime and never let up in its record 13th consecutive victory at John Paul Jones Arena.

“He brings energy on the court, in the locker room, on the bus, everywhere. The kid’s nonstop,” junior forward Akil Mitchell said. “It’s good for our team.”

Anderson scored Virginia’s first basket with a finger-roll layup, later had a block on Jordan Roper and gave the fans the kind of play they have come to expect in the second half with a reverse alley-oop slam off a pass from Jontel Evans. On the next possession, he fed Nolte cross court for an open 3-pointer.

The Tigers (12-10, 4-6), who shot 77 percent in the second half of that game against the nation’s 10th-best field goal percentage defense (37.3 percent), had no such success on the Cavaliers’ home floor. Not until Devin Booker’s putback with 12:04 left made it 55-22 did they have more points than Virginia guard Joe Harris.

In the rematch, Harris scored 21 points, Mitchell had 16 and Virginia had one of its best all-around efforts of the year.

“I think that was certainly our most unselfish game we’ve played all year,” Bennett said.

“Those guys were not only really ready to play, but when they got off to the great start, they didn’t let up on the gas,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “They didn’t let up in any way on either end. We were clearly on our heels from the outset.”

The Tigers suffered their largest margin of defeat in an ACC game, 78-41, since a 39-point loss at Maryland in 2002-03. The 41 points were the Tigers’ fewest in an ACC game since a 38-point outing at Miami in 2005-06.

The Cavaliers (16-6, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 5-0 at home in the ACC for the first time since 2006-07.

Virginia has had a tendency to let leads slip away, and was coming off a loss at Georgia Tech in a game it led by nine in the second half before folding.

“We talked about how we wanted to beat them by 50 at halftime,” Harris said, “so we really didn’t want to let up.”

The Tigers’ 10-point half was the lowest against Virginia since Maryland did it in 1981, and Clemson became the eighth team to fail to score 20 points in a half against the Cavaliers this season. Virginia ranks third nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 52 points, and the Tigers didn’t even get close.

K.J. McDaniels led the Tigers with 10 points while scoring leader Devin Booker had seven and Milton Jennings, who had a then-career best 21 in the victory in January, managed just two on 1-for-7 shooting. Clemson shot 30.8 percent overall (16 of 52) and Virginia shot 55.6 percent (30 of 56).

The game was essentially over by halftime as Virginia used an early 12-0 run to open a 14-2 lead and then closed the half with a 15-0 burst. The lead could have been significantly higher with Virginia forcing 13 turnovers in the half, but Cavaliers missed nine 3-point tries before hitting three straight.

Virginia made 10 of its last 15 attempts from behind the arc.

“There’s just something about this building,” Mitchell said. “When we get energized and get going, we’re a complete different team.”

McDaniels opened the second half with a 3-pointer for Clemson, the only one the Tigers made in 17 tries, but Harris answered with one of his own shortly thereafter and the Cavaliers never let up.

Clemson returns to action against NC State at home on Sunday for a 1 p.m. tipoff.

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Comments » 6

richardcd writes:

Has Clemson ever had a worse basketball team? Probably, but I don't remember it. Virginia had two runs in the first half where they outscored Clemson 27-0. Good grief.

ewhite#232824 writes:

in response to richardcd:

Has Clemson ever had a worse basketball team? Probably, but I don't remember it. Virginia had two runs in the first half where they outscored Clemson 27-0. Good grief.

This team is embarassing. They are getting worse, and not better. After playing close with NC State in Raleigh they have done nothing on the road but get demolished. I had planned to go see them at Littlejohn this year but I'll save the time and money for a time when they have a real team.

miketiger71 writes:

in response to ewhite#232824:

This team is embarassing. They are getting worse, and not better. After playing close with NC State in Raleigh they have done nothing on the road but get demolished. I had planned to go see them at Littlejohn this year but I'll save the time and money for a time when they have a real team.

Poor leadweship from the two seniors on the road. In 45 years of watching Tiger basketball, I can't remember a worst loss - no energy, poorly prepared - that's a reflection on the coaching staff as well. We've got a young team but we werent playing UNC or Duke. This was a middle of the road UVA team we beat at Littlejohn by 15 points. This game set Clemson basketball back 50 years.

FlopEye writes:

Can Dabo coach basketball?

michtiger writes:

The home schedule we have left might give us 1 more win and the road 1 more, so lets concede this team has no post season future. So you would think a good coach would use the remaining games to develop. Bench Jennings to a relief player ( fouls and turnovers are horrible and he has the hands of a baby ). Booker in the middle, mcDaniel then three guards, Hall ( wake him up )roper and Filler. Harrison to sub in, since he will not be here next year. Lets do some developing.

waran writes:

This is the first Bownell's game I have been embarrassed. But we dont need Dabbo just because one game was terrible.

I agree that we need to prepare for next year. Jennings has to be benched. He is terrible.

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