Augusta Free Press

No Zay, no problem for #2 Virginia on defensive end

Virginia held #18 Clemson to 13 second-half points on 6-of-24 shooting in its 61-36 win Tuesday night. Most of that effort came with the nation’s best defensive player on the bench.

Isaiah Wilkins subbed out at the 16:45 mark of the second half with what appeared to be a lower-back injury, and did not return.

When Wilkins went to the sidelines, Virginia led 32-27. Clemson would score just four more times the rest of the evening, over a period of 26 possessions.

The Tigers were 4-of-18 from the floor over the final 16:45 with nine turnovers.

Who stepped in for Wilkins? How about redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter, who had an off-night on the offensive end, scoring seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.

But Hunter subbed in for Wilkins at the 16:45 mark, and wouldn’t leave the floor until there was just 1:33 left on the clock, the lead having grown from five to 20 over that stretch.

Hunter played a season-high 27 minutes despite his lack of productivity on the offensive end, and finished with a plus-minus of +19.

Wilkins, for what it’s worth, was -2 in his 21 minutes on the floor, a rare negative for the senior on the plus-minus ledger.

Jack Salt would lead Virginia in plus-minus in the win, at +27 over his 20 minutes on the floor.

Not sure how many times this can be said, but the lineup versatility that Hunter offers coach Tony Bennett gives this team another dimension, offensively and now also defensively.

Story by Chris Graham