Blowout City: UVa. hammers Clemson, 78-41
UVa. rode stingy defense and an unusually torrid night shooting the ball to an easy 78-41 win over the Tigers Thursday night in Charlottesville.
This one was never close, as the Cavs (16-6, 6-3 ACC) jumped out to an early 16-4 lead and held Clemson to 20 percent shooting in the first half. Meanwhile, Virginia shot 52 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and led 38-10 at the break.
It never got closer than 25 the rest of the way as the Cavs led by as many as 41.
The only drama for a while was whether Clemson (12-10, 4-6 ACC) would outscore Joe Harris, who had 21 points midway through the second half when he went to the bench before a Devin Booker bucket at the 12:10 mark brought the Tigers to within a 55-22 margin.
Harris finished with those 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field to lead Virginia. Akil Mitchell chipped in 16 points, Justin Anderson had 14, and Jontel Evans had a game-high eight assists for the Cavs, which shot 56 percent from the field for the game.
Clemson got 10 points from K.J. McDaniels. The Tigers shot 30.8 percent from the floor for the game, and were a woeful 5.9 percent (1-for-17) from three-point range.
UVa. had a season-high 12 steals and forced 19 Clemson turnovers on the night.
“We got off to a big lead and Clemson was certainly out of sorts, but I think that was certainly our most unselfish game we’ve played all year,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said afterward.
There is concern for the ‘Hoos as they prepare for a road game on Sunday at Maryland. Before the Clemson game, the program announced that first-year center Mike Tobey will be out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Tobey had been playing well of late, averaging 6.5 points per game in 13.5 minutes per game, but chipping in 10 points in a Jan. 24 win at Virginia Tech and 13 points in an upset win over then-#19 N.C. State on Jan. 29.
“We’ve just got to keep battling, keep swarming, keep doing the things we’re doing, and playing together like we are. We must put certainly a premium on playing smart, not getting in foul trouble, using our trap, using our choke,” Bennett said regarding the loss of Tobey.
The 37-point margin was the biggest in an ACC game since an 85-44 win for Duke over Maryland in 2009, and the biggest for UVa. since a 109-66 win over Duke in 1983.