Three-point shooters are getting plenty of attention lately from defenses trying to slow down Clemson. They weren’t even a concern the last time Virginia lost nine straight.
The 12th-ranked Tigers look to continue their strong shooting away from home and hand the Cavaliers their worst losing streak in 47 years when the ACC rivals meet at John Paul Jones Arena on Sunday.
Clemson (20-3, 6-3) has won four of five, including a 74-47 home win over then-No. 4 Duke on Feb. 4. The Tigers have shot particularly well in their two games away from home during that span, going 25-for-50 from 3-point range, and are shooting 42.0 percent from beyond the arc in their seven road games this season.
A matchup with lowly Virginia (7-13, 1-8) seems to be an excellent opportunity for Clemson to continue its run.
The Cavaliers, mired in their worst losing streak since an eight-game skid in 1997-98, are in danger of dropping nine straight for the first time since the 1961-62 season. The 3-point arc was 25 years away from being implemented at that time, but opponents have been using it successfully to keep Virginia’s skid going.
Teams are shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range and averaging 77.6 points against the Cavaliers during their losing streak. Virginia ranks 11th in the ACC in 3-point defense, allowing teams to shoot 34.8 percent.
The Tigers shot 61.5 percent (16-for-26) from 3-point range in an 82-51 win at Virginia on Feb. 7, 2008, in the teams’ only meeting last season.
K.C. Rivers scored a career-high 32 points in that game and went 8-of-11 from beyond the arc while Terrence Oglesby hit 4-of-8. Rivers hit three more 3-pointers and scored 17 points on Tuesday night, but Oglesby was the star in an 87-77 win over Boston College.
The sophomore guard had 18 of his 21 points in the second half and went 6-for-10 from 3-point range, including a four-point play with 11:54 left to put the Tigers ahead 61-57.
The Tigers, who made 44.0 percent of their 3s, can sense opponents getting demoralized when Oglesby starts to heat up.
“It seems to drain them,” Tigers center Raymond Sykes said. “You can tell by looking at their faces.”
Oglesby is averaging 13.4 points and shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range. Clemson is 22-3 when he makes at least three 3-pointers.
“Especially when you hit two, three in a row, it gives everybody a good feeling,” Oglesby said. “I feel like if I can get my arms up I can put it in the hole. I’ve had all kinds of guys covering me - from 5-10 to 6-8, 6-9. I feel like I can get it off against anybody.”
Virginia only shot 34.3 percent overall and 7-of-27 from behind the arc in a 68-57 loss to No. 25 Florida State on Tuesday night.
One encouraging factor for the Cavaliers is they led at the half (22-20) for the first time in eight games.
Virginia, trying to win for the first time since a 74-50 victory over Brown on Jan. 6, starts three underclassmen. Freshman guard Sylven Landesberg averages a team-high 17.8 points, but has shot 34.3 percent (12-for-31) over the last two games.
Virginia leads the series with Clemson 64-49.