Greensboro Coliseum: Virginia displayed their precision passing, screening and cutting to the hilt in whipping Clemson 76-56 Friday night in the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament. The Cavaliers move on to face Duke Saturday night for the championship while the wait and worry for the Tigers for the NCAA Tournament really begins.
Coach Brad Brownell said after the Thursday night win over NC State his team was 100% in, but ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still had the Tigers as the second team out going into their game Friday night. Friday night Brownell said his team was definitely one of the best 68 in the country.
Clemson needed to play expertly on offense and soundly on defense to be able to hang with the Cavaliers, but they could do neither. Long shooting droughts combined with turnovers stymied the offense, and defensively, the Tigers were not able to prevent Virginia from doing what they wanted to do with their pass and cut offense.
The game turned late in the first half. A three-point basket by Hunter Tyson brought Clemson to within 29-25 with 4:00 left in the half, but the Cavaliers scored the final eight points going into halftime with three layups, two off offensive rebounds, and another basket in the paint.
The Tigers missed their final five shots of the first half, a cold streak that would stretch to nine to open the second half. By the time the Tigers scored their first points of the second half four minutes in the Cavaliers had extended their lead to 43-27. The lead eventually grew to 23 points at 50-27. The closest Clemson would get the rest of the way was 14 points. The Tigers closed the game by making just one of their last 11 shots.
Clemson was held to a 36% shooting night. The Tigers were forced into 12 turnovers the Cavaliers turned into 12 points, and the Cavs grabbed 11 offensive rebounds for 14 second chance points. Virginia shot 50% and had 18 assists on their 30 baskets. The Cavs scored 40 points in the paint, 28 of them on layups, with most of those on cuts to the basket with pinpoint passing.
Tyson led Clemson with 15 points including four three-pointers. PJ Hall added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jayden Gardner led Virginia with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Clemson is now 1-7 all time against Virginia in the ACC Tournament. The Tigers, at least for another season, will remain the only team from the original eight ACC members to have never won the ACC Tournament.
Brad Brownell, Hunter Tyson, PJ Hall