The number 44 carries a lot of significance in sports. Hank Aaron, who celebrated his 86th birthday, Wednesday, became the Home Run King wearing 44 on his back. John Riggins rushed to the Hall of Fame as number 44. Jerry West earned the nickname Mr. Clutch wearing lucky number 44. For Clemson, however, 44 has been anything but lucky, as of late. For the second straight game, the Tigers scored 44 points in a losing effort, this time falling at Virginia 51-44, Wednesday night.
After a miserable offensive performance at Wake Forest, Saturday, the Tigers fared no better against Virginia’s vaunted defense. Clemson got off to bitterly poor starts in both games, scoring just 19 points in the first half against the Demon Deacons and 14 in the first half against the Cavaliers. Clemson has now lost ten consecutive games to Virginia, dating back to the 2012-2013 season.
Clemson (11-11, 5-7 ACC) again had trouble drawing foul shot opportunities. After shooting just six free throws at Wake Forest, the Tigers shot seven at Virginia, making four. Clemson also had issues from long range, hitting on just six of 28 3-pointers (21%).
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell likes his team’s effort, but knows they need to find ways to generate scoring, “I thought the guys played well in the second half. But, at the end of the day, it’s a shot maker’s game, and we’re not making timely threes or the shots that we need to win. Virginia had seven blocks, but it felt like they had 17 blocks. It was hard for us to drive and score. We had some open looks down the stretch, though. If you’re going to win a game on the road against a good team, you have to make those shots.”
Aamir Simms led the Tigers with 16 points and two blocks, followed by Al-Amir Dawes, who contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Tevin Mack joined that duo in double figures with 10 points and seven rebounds.
As troubling as the lack of scoring is for Clemson, their inability to win outside of Littlejohn Coliseum is also alarming. With the loss at Charlottesville, the Tigers fall to 1-6 on the road. Clemson’s next chance to get back on track comes Sunday when the Tigers play host to Notre Dame at 6 p.m.