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Jennings scores 21, Clemson beats Virginia 59-44

AP - Sports

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Milton Jennings scored a season-high 21 points on five 3-pointers and added 11 rebounds to give Clemson its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season, 59-44 over Virginia on Saturday.

Jennings finished a point off his career best as the Tigers (9-6, 1-2 ACC) avoided their first 0-3 ACC start in 13 years. Devin Booker added 15 points and nine rebounds for Clemson, which won its fourth straight at home over the Cavaliers (11-5, 1-2).

It was Virginia's lowest point total since a 63-44 loss to Boston College on Feb. 26, 2011. Joe Harris had 14 points and was Virginia's only player in double figures.

Jennings took control of things for Clemson early in the second half with consecutive threes for a 31-24 lead. When the Cavaliers cut things to 33-29 on Evan Nolte's 3-pointer, Jennings and Damarcus Harrison led a 7-2 run for the Tigers.

Virginia's last good chance ended when Booker had back-to-back blocks on Mike Tobey and Justin Anderson seconds apart and Jennings followed with his fourth 3-pointer for a 44-35 lead with 7:12 remaining.

The Tigers came into the game dead last in ACC shooting and points per game, but found their stroke in the second half. Clemson made 10 of 14 shots after the halftime, led by Jennings, who made 5 of 6 shots - four of those from behind the arc.

The bulk of Booker's points came from the foul line, where he made 9 of 12. Hall was 4 of 4 for eight points for the Tigers.

Virginia struggled with its shooting, going 5 of 17 (29.4 percent) from 3-point range. Harris, second in the ACC from way outside, made only 2 of 7 long-range attempts.

Clemson and Virginia both came in desperately hoping to wipe away their last outings. The Tigers made just one jump shot in a 68-40 loss at No. 1 Duke this past Tuesday, while the Cavaliers shot just 36 percent from the field in losing a 10th straight game at Wake Forest last Wednesday night.

The Tigers lost some depth on Friday when reserve guard Jordan Roper, the team's second-best 3-point shooter, hurt his ankle in practice and was ruled out against Virginia.

Things didn't start well for either team. Virginia committed nine first-half turnovers and was 2 of 8 on three-point tries. Clemson also shot under 40 percent (7 of 19) and leading scorer Booker made only 1 of 6 from the field.

The Tigers went more than 7 minutes without a basket until Hall's jumper with 1:11 left in the opening half. Then K.J. McDaniels' block on Tobey started a fast break that ended with Booker's lone bucket of the period to put Clemson ahead 24-20 heading into halftime.

Harris, Virginia's top scorer, struggled to find his outside shot. He was just 1 of 4 behind the arc in the opening half.

The game had a football theme to it, as Clemson hosted several high school players it hopes to sign next month. Coach Dabo Swinney and quarterback Tajh Boyd were honored during the first half, while longtime NFL star defensive back - and ex-Tiger star - Brian Dawkins was brought out to fans' cheers in the second half.

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