What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Clemson

clemsonClemson beat Duke. And also lost to Yale. Both were in Littlejohn.

A five-game winning streak, followed by a four-game losing streak. The program’s first-ever win in Chapel Hill, 44 points in a loss at Wake over the weekend.

It’s hard to figure which Clemson team is going to show up.

A lot of that has to do with whether or not Aamir Simms shows up. The ubertalented 6’8” junior from Blue Ridge School by way of Palmyra leads the Tigers in scoring (13.3 ppg, 45.1% FG, 38.1% 3FG), but he has averaged just 6.8 points per game on 30.3 percent shooting in his last four, with three single-digit games in that stretch.

This from a guy who had 25 on 10-of-15 shooting in the win over Duke back on Jan. 14.

Simms averages 10.2 shots per game, but he put up just four in 29 minutes in the 71-70 win over Syracuse on Jan. 28, with five turnovers.

One other guy averages in double-digits, 6’6” senior guard Tevin Mack (12.1 ppg, 45.5% FG, 27.5% 3FG).

6’5” sophomore John Newman (9.6 ppg, 44.2% FG, 31.2% 3FG) is the other go-to guy for Clemson, and when you look at the Tigers’ Big Three, you see size and ability to get to the rim.

Per Hoop-Math.com, Simms gets 40.5 percent of his shots at the rim, Newman 36.4 percent, and Mack 30.6 percent, and each converts more than 60 percent of those opportunities.

Keeping those three out of the paint will be a focal point for Virginia.

Where the Tigers get bogged down is at the point. 6’4” junior Clyde Trapp (6.8 ppg, 2.6 assists/g, 38.2% FG, 31.4% 3FG) and 6’2” freshman Al-Amir Dawes (7.6 ppg, 2.6 assists/g, 34.8% FG, 28.9% 3FG) have been splitting time at the one, with mixed results.

Dawes appears to be the more talented of the two, but has issues with turnovers (2.7 per game).

How Virginia matches up

Coach Brad Brownell uses Simms at the five, with Mack and 6’8” sophomore Hunter Tyson (6.0 ppg in 14.8 minutes/g) splitting time at the four.

This probably pushes UVA coach Tony Bennett into going with 6’9” senior Mamadi Diakite (13.5 ppg, 6.9 rebs/g, 48.0% FG, 41.0% 3FG) on Simms, but don’t be surprised if 6’8” senior Braxton Key (10.2 ppg, 7.4 rebs/g, 42.7% FG, 17.4% 3FG) gets some minutes at the five when Diakite subs out for breathers.

Key is probably a better option when Diakite is off the floor than 7’1” junior Jay Huff (8.4 ppg, 6.0 rebs/g, 59.7% FG, 32.1% 3FG), who may be a matchup casualty in this one.

This game screams Bennett going mostly four-guard around Diakite.


  • KenPom.com: Virginia 54-48, 72% win probability
  • BartTorvik.com: Virginia 53-48, 76% win probability
  • ESPN BPI: Virginia 79.1% win probability

Story by Chris Graham

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