Taking care of business: #2 UVA patiently dismantles Clemson
Second-ranked UVA led just 25-19 at the half, and Clemson had to feel some confidence going into the locker room.
The Tigers had suffered a pair of ugly losses in November to Gardner-Webb and Winthrop, but were looking much better of late, taking Louisville to the brink before losing to the Cardinals by six last week, then winning on the road at Pitt, one of the tougher venues to get a road W in the ACC, outrebounding the rugged Panthers by 17 in the process.
Clemson was outrebounding Virginia at the break by five, shooting 47.1 percent from the floor, and the ‘Hoos were uncharacteristically missing open look after open look, connecting on just 38.5 percent of their shots from the floor, and it wasn’t necessarily because Clemson was being all that stingy on the defensive end.
Except that it wasn’t. A Malcolm Brogdon three and Justin Anderson highlight-reel dunk pushed the lead to double digits two minutes in, and the Cavalanche got going earlier than expected, with Virginia outscoring Clemson 29-6 in the opening 12:07 of the second half en route to posting an easy 65-42 win.
Virginia (16-0, 4-0 ACC) was dominant on both ends in the second half, shooting 62.5 percent from the floor (15-of-24) and 60 percent from three (6-of-10) while holding Clemson to 6-of-23 shooting (26.1 percent) after its relatively torrid first half.
After UVA’s relatively ugly first half on the offensive end, the numbers for the game looked good across the board. Brogdon had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, Anderson had 15 on 5-of-10 shooting, and all told nine different Cavs had at least one make from the floor on the night.
Also key was that the blowout allowed coach Tony Bennett to clear his bench early. Only London Perrantes played 30 minutes or more (Perrantes went 30 on the nose), with Anderson and Brogdon logging 28 minutes each, Darion Atkins getting 27 and 10 players total getting at least 10 minutes.
Isiah Wilkins had another solid game off the bench in the process, scoring five points on 2-of-3 shooting (including hitting a three) in 15 minutes after getting 14 minutes in the win at Notre Dame last week.
The management of minutes is important for Bennett as the season marches on toward the Madness of the postseason.
Managing minutes and getting blowout wins is a sort of double bonus in what is proving to be a tough ACC in 2015.
– Column by Chris Graham