In Brad Brownell's View
Overall thoughts: “It was a hard fought win. I was really proud of how our players competed. Any time you play a Tony Bennett coached team you’re going to be in a grinding game. They really make you work. I thought our guys played really well today. They defended them and fought through some tough screens. We worked our tails off defensively, but we executed offensively as well. We got the ball to our two seniors, and they played well and made good shots. I was really happy for Milt (Jennings).”
On message to seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings after the loss at Duke: “I talked to both after the Duke game and just told them to hang in there. I know they were disappointed, but all of our players were going to look at them a lot. Whether they look at it or not, our guys are going to look at how they carry themselves in practice and around the team. I talked to them a little about finding ways to get more shots for Milt, and how he needs to stay aggressive. We added one or two plays for him, but it wasn’t a big deal.
"I just told (Devin) Booker how well I thought he played against Duke and that we wanted him to try to maintain that level and continue to defend and rebound, and we would work to get him the ball. Both guys responded well. We gave the seniors a day off Thursday. They didn’t practice but everyone else did. We wanted to rest them a little. They played with great energy today.”
On the game plan of getting the ball to the seniors: “I didn’t (plead to the team) any more than usual. We talked about getting Milt some shots. The guys know we need to do a better job of getting the ball inside. We watched film on the Duke game and saw that sometimes we got the ball to Book and other times we didn’t when he was open. We have shown our guys that a bunch this year. There were penetration situations that we needed to improve. That isn’t going to be solved without months and months of work, but I think our guys did have the idea that we were going to play inside-out today.”
On his message to the crowd during the second half: “Yeah, I don’t do that very often, but our team is working so hard. I’m not on our fans at all, because they have been supportive. We haven’t played well at times to deserve as much support as we have gotten. That’s just one of those things where you are in a fight and it is a possession game and every one is important. I was pleading with our guys to continue to defend, compete, and fight. We are not a very dynamic offensive team, so the defensive end is where they can help us the most. When they are screaming and yelling, and making it hard to score, and putting some doubt in our opponents and giving our guys some juice…that is when the fans are going to help us the most. I was just encouraging them to stand up and support their guys.”
Virginia coach Tony Bennett
On the difficulty of defending Clemson: “I think they’re certainly good with their two seniors. They’re physical. Booker is very physical, probably the most physical interior presence that we’ve seen. They got to the line 27 times and we only got there eight. They run hard, physical offense, and we tried to be in position. It’s a little bit of an adjustment for Mike Tobey when he’s in there to get used to that. But we tried to trap some and pressure the ball.
"They can put a little pressure on you with Jennings, especially when he’s hitting bank shots from three. That puts pressure on you because a lot of times, they’re feeding four to five. It’s a fight for position, and I think you just have to try to be good on the ball and make them earn their catches. I thought we battled harder and were engaged and a little more rugged than we were last week. After a while, I think they wore us down.”
On the play of Devin Booker: “As the game wore on, when you look at their second half shooting percentage, it seemed like he got a little deeper. They made some feeds when the ball was out top and we were on his back. That’s when I switched Akil on him. One of the issues is that Darion was hobbling around. I just didn’t feel like he could go. We’ll get him looked at when we get back and see what that status is. Besides Akil, we’ve got some inexperience. That’s a battle down there, and I thought he had his way when he wanted to in that second half.”
On creating more scoring from his starters: “I thought we got some okay looks, some rhythm looks. We actually had some at the rim that they played paddleball with up there. We had some chances to finish, but they’re athletic and they blocked them. I always go back and look at if we got quality shots. Paul certainly got some good looks that were in-and-out. They’re hard to score against. Our games against Clemson are always a grind that way, although they scored a little easier in the second half. But you were going to have to earn your shots, and you needed to stick some shots. A lot of those looks we got weren’t going in, and that was trouble.”
- With 15 points and nine rebounds, Devin Booker just missed recording his third straight double-double.
- Milton Jennings played a team-high 37 minutes, while Booker and Rod Hall played 36 minutes each. Six players accounted for all but seven playing minutes.
- Clemson made 10 of 13 shots in the second half and finished at 51.5 percent from the field.
- Both teams made 17 baskets, but Clemson had a 19-5 scoring advantage at the free throw line.
- K.J. McDaniels blocked three shots, and Booker had two.
- Virginia had a 20-14 edge in points in the paint.
- The two teams combined for just 11 offensive rebounds and nine second-chance points.
- Booker and Jennings accounted for 20 of Clemson's 29 rebounds.