Clemson 73, Virginia 64
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)—Edward Scott had a perfect answer for a Virginia team that was fired up to win: Edward Scott.
The senior guard scored 32 points and hit a huge 3-pointer and several other key buckets down the stretch as Clemson dealt Virginia’s NCAA tournament hopes a serious blow with a 73-64 victory Tuesday night.
The Tigers (14-8, 4-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) ended a 10-game road losing streak in the league dating to January 2002 and handed Virginia its second consecutive home loss after the Cavaliers started 10-0 here.
Getting back to basics was the key for the Tigers, Scott said, especially when they took a nine-point lead into the halftime locker room.
“We held our composure, made plays, got on a little run and didn’t make stupid mistakes to let them get back in the game,” he said.
Virginia (14-10, 5-7) got 30 points from Devin Smith and 14 with 13 rebounds from Travis Watson, but played its second straight sluggish game, despite the high stakes, and allowed Clemson to sweep the season series.
The Cavaliers, who lost 78-77 at Clemson on Jan. 18, trailed by nine at halftime, got within three early and four late, but Scott hit about a 26-footer with 3:19 left and scored eight of the Tigers’ last 13.
“We just couldn’t stop him,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said.
Chey Christie added 16 points for the Tigers, all but two coming in the first half, and Tomas Nagys had 11, but Scott stole the show.
His evening included a piece of history, too, as his fifth of eight rebounds made him just the ninth player in ACC history to get 1,000 points, 500 assists and 400 rebounds in his career. He had four assists.
“He had the bop in his step the whole game,” coach Larry Shyatt said. “If you look at the entirety of the game, he guarded their best player. Even when he wasn’t making shots, he had command of the game.”
It showed most when it mattered most.
Clemson led 59-46 with 7:13 left before Smith hit two free throws, Elton Brown hit two more and Watson swished a 3-pointer, just his fifth of the season, to pull Virginia to 59-53 with 4:59 remaining.
Nagys followed with a free throw and Smith hit his sixth 3-pointer to make it 63-59, whipping the crowd into a comeback-minded frenzy.
But at the other end, Scott let the shot clock get close to zero, stepped back at the top of the key and swished his third 3-pointer.
“I have no idea,” he said, laughing, about how long the shot was. He later added three free throws and a clinching layup with 1:06 to play.
The Cavaliers, already in the penalty, had no chance to catch up, and Gillen said his frustration includes his team’s inability to score in long stretches to the absence of would-be point guard Keith Jenifer.
Jenifer was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 3 after getting into a skirmish on campus, and Gillen says the team is feeling his absence.
Virginia won its first two games without Jenifer, including a stunning 86-78 victory at Maryland, but has lost three in a row since.
“It’s frustrating,” Gillen said. “Keith Jenifer, if he plays, we might not win, but we’re a different team with him. He shot himself in the foot. … We’re a different team when he’s penetrating, creating.”
Elton Brown, who scored 11, disagreed.
“None of this is on Keith,” Brown said. “Keith is not on the court making defensive stops. Keith’s not out there shooting the three.”