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Virginia defeats Clemson, 75-65, makes it two in a row on the road in the ACC

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Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Clemson went almost seven second-half minutes without a field goal, and Virginia took control with a 13-3 run, on its way to winning on the road, 75-65, on Tuesday.

Remember the 67-50 loss to the Tigers two weeks ago in JPJ? Almost seems like a different Virginia team from then to now.

If you read on, I’ll explain to you how it is, indeed, a different team.

For the second straight game, the Cavaliers (9-5, 3-1 ACC) shot better than 50 percent from the floor, and it was the result of attacking the paint.

In the home loss to Clemson on Dec. 22, more than half of UVA’s shots from the floor were threes, and the ‘Hoos were just 6-of-22 from behind the arc.

Tuesday night, Virginia got to the rim – the Cavaliers were 11-of-14 on layups and dunks – and to the free-throw line.

On the night, UVA was 21-of-24 at the charity stripe.

It was still a tight game most of the way. Virginia led by as many as eight in the first half, but an 11-2 Clemson run put the home team up one, 37-36, at the break.

The game featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes, the last lead change coming, as it turned out, on a pair of Jayden Gardner free throws with 6:51 to go that put UVA up 58-57.

It was 60-59 when Armaan Franklin connected on a jumper at the top of the key with 5:34 to go, igniting a 7-0 run punctuated by a Kihei Clark three that extended the lead to eight, at 67-59, with 4:05 on the clock.

It wouldn’t get closer than six thereafter.

Rotation breakdown

Gardner was the man in Tuesday’s win, with a game-high 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, and 9-of-10 from the line.

Gardner’s shot breakdown: 4-of-6 on jumpers, 3-of-5 at the rim.

Franklin had 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting, 1-of-6 from three. For the million and second time, Franklin was a 42.4 percent shooter from three last year; this year, he’s 21.5 percent.

Dude is so good inside the arc – he was 3-of-5 on two-point jumpers Tuesday; on the season, he’s now 26-of-43 (60.5 percent) – that you want to see him attack more than settle for threes that aren’t going to go in.

The point guards, Clark and Reece Beekman, each had eight points. Clark had the dagger three; Beekman was 4-of-6 from the floor and had a team-high five assists.

The fives, Kadin Shedrick and Francisco Caffaro, also had eight points apiece. Stat of the night: they were a cumulative 5-of-5 from the floor, 6-of-8 from the line, with eight rebounds and four blocks (all by Shedrick) in 37 total minutes.

Put them together, and that’s a first-team All-ACC center right there.

Virginia also got 14 refreshingly productive minutes off the bench from Kody Stattmann, who had five points on 2-of-4 shooting, a tough drive-and-finish that gave Virginia the lead back, and a three on an assist from Gardner that extended a one-point lead to four.

Freshman Taine Murray got nine minutes off the bench, hitting a pair of free throws and snaring a rebound.

Inside the Numbers

Shedrick was a team-best +16 in his 18 minutes, his time limited again by foul trouble – he finished with four.

Clemson had a 24-6 advantage in points off turnovers in its win in Charlottesville two weeks ago. The edge was a modest 11-8 in the Tigers’ favor on Tuesday.

Virginia lost the points in the paint battle 22-12 in the first game. Tuesday, UVA outscored Clemson 34-22 in the paint.

Virginia didn’t get a single point from its bench in the loss in JPJ. The ‘Hoos had a 15-4 advantage in bench points on Tuesday.

Shooting breakdown

Virginia: 25-of-46 (54.3 percent) from the floor, 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from three, 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) at the rim, 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) on two-point jumpers, 21-of-24 (87.5 percent) at the line.

Clemson: 23-of-50 (46.0 percent) from the floor, 9-of-20 (45.0 percent) from three, 7-of-14 (50.0 percent) at the rim, 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) on two-point jumpers, 10-of-16 (62.5 percent) at the line.

Bottom line

The tweaks to the offense that UVA coach Tony Bennett and his staff made over the Christmas break have Virginia attacking the paint with the guards, getting the ball to Gardner to work the baseline, and getting Franklin to shoot more pull-up jumpers, his strength.

The defense is still a work-in-progress, but, and who would have thought this to be the case two weeks ago, the offense has been more than good enough to carry things in the road wins at Syracuse and at Clemson.

The deficiencies on defense haven’t been for lack of effort, so you have to assume that side is going to get better.

If the defense can do what we expect, and the offense can continue to attack the way it has the past two games, this team can have a higher ceiling than it looked in November and December.

Story by Chris Graham

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