No. 2 Virginia dominates second half to down No. 17 Tigers
No. 2 Virginia stifled Clemson on the defensive end during a 27-4 run over a 16-minute span to pull away to a 61-36 win in Charlottesville Tuesday night.
The Tigers (16-4, 5-3 ACC), which came in ranked as high as No. 17 nationally, were playing their first game without senior forward Donte Grantham, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Saturday versus Notre Dame.
That left four Tigers averaging double-figure scoring in the rotation, and outside of a strong start from senior guard Gabe DeVoe, that core group struggled to get off the ground against the defensive-minded Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0).
Clemson trailed by only four at the end of a streaky first half.
Virginia started with a 7-0 run and Clemson answered with 11-straight points. The Cavaliers ran off seven consecutive points and the Tigers scored 11 in a row again. To close the half, Virginia went on an 11-0 run of its own, holding Clemson scoreless for the final 6:26 for a 27-23 edge at the break.
DeVoe stepped in early to lead the Tigers in the their first minutes without Grantham to score a half-high 11 points. Stepping in for Grantham’s spot, freshman Aamir Simms posted five points and five rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Simms finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Those offensive issues extended into the second session, where Clemson didn’t crack the 30-point mark until 5:54 was left and scored 13 for the period. The Tigers shot a season-low 31.9 percent from the field and went 3-of-20 shooting from the perimeter.
The final point total was Clemson's lowest since 1999 (35, versus Oregon State).
Virginia was led by 14 points from guard Devon Hall. The win was an 11th-straight for the Cavaliers overall and a seventh-straight in the series.
Tuesday night’s ranked battle was a first between the two schools both in the top-25 since 1996. Clemson’s last win in Charlottesville was in 2008.
The Tigers will look to rebound at Georgia Tech (10-9, 3-3) on Sunday in a 6 p.m. tip (ESPNU).
Notes: The start for true freshman Aamir Simms was the first by a Tiger freshman since Donte Grantham in 2014 … the nine points for Simms was a career-high, while his six rebounds tied his career-mark set in a win over Western Carolina (Nov. 10).
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