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Virginia rolls over Clemson

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia jumped out to a 28-point halftime lead and cruised to a 78-41 home win over Clemson on Thursday night.

The Cavaliers limited the Tigers to 10 first-half points, which tied a season low for Clemson (12-10, 4-6 ACC). The Tigers also scored 10 points in the first half of a 68-40 loss at Duke on Jan. 8.

On the flip side, it was the fewest points Virginia (16-6, 6-3) had allowed in any half since Maryland scored 10 points in the second half of its game with the Cavaliers on Jan. 14, 1981.

"I thought we really came out, started it with great intensity on defense," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "We were flying around."

For the game, Clemson shot just 30.8 percent (16 of 52) from the field and made just 1 of 17 3-pointers. The Tigers also turned the ball over 19 times.

"Those guys (Virginia) were not only ready to play, but when they got off to a great start, they didn't let up at all on either end," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "They didn't relax defensively at all. Their offense was very crisp, ball movement was great, and we were clearly on our heels from the onset."

Virginia was forced to play a smaller lineup because of medical issues with two of its post players, Darion Atkins (right leg) and Mike Tobey (mononucleosis), sidelined.

Cavaliers freshman Justin Anderson started the fourth game of his career and for the first time since Nov. 17. Bennett wanted to get more physicality in the game against Clemson's front line of Milton Jennings and Devin Booker.

"I wanted to come with a stronger guy out there on the glass, matching up with (Milton) Jennings, coming on the trap, all those things," Bennett said. "Justin's been playing well, too."

Anderson ended with 14 points and a number of highlight plays in the second half, including an over-the-head, no-look pass to Akil Mitchell for a dunk as well as finishing off an alley-oop with a reverse slam. Normally a wing, Anderson played a multitude of positions, including some power forward and center.

"On the offensive end, it allows me to run and have big guys chase me," Anderson said. "I think that's tough for a lot of forwards to do. It gives me a slight advantage. On the defensive end, it's also a good thing because I can be quick to our post traps and more athletic on the glass."

Joe Harris led Virginia with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Mitchell added 16 points, six rebounds and four steals.

The Cavaliers shot 55.6 percent (30 of 54) from the field and made 10 of 24 from 3-point range after missing their first nine attempts. Virginia also had just six turnovers.

"They really played so well together," Bennett said. "The ball moved. There were good cuts at the rim. Obviously, we shot it well. All that really came together nicely."

K.J. McDaniels had 10 points to lead Clemson. He was the only player in double figures. Booker and Jennings combined for just nine points and 12 rebounds. The duo had 36 points and 20 rebounds in the teams' first meeting.

"Mitchell had a lot of help, but they did a great job," Brownell said of Virginia's post defense. "They double-teamed off a lot of people and helped a lot of the back side. Their defense was much better than the first game against us."

Virginia has now won 13 straight games in John Paul Jones Arena and is 14-1 this season at home. The 37-point win was Virginia's biggest in an ACC game since a 109-66 win over Duke on March 11, 1983 in the ACC Tournament.

Clemson saw its road struggles continue, losing its sixth straight away from home. That includes a 0-5 mark in road ACC games.

"You don't necessarily burn (the tape)," Brownell said of what his team could take from the game. "But you're never as good as you think you are and you are never as bad as you think you are either."

Virginia ended the first half on a 15-0 run to lead 38-10 at halftime. The Cavaliers missed their first nine attempts from beyond the arc but made their final three attempts in the final 1:55 to really extend their cushion.

Clemson shot just 20 percent (5 of 25) from the field in the first half and committed 13 turnovers. The Tigers did not score in the final 5:17 after a Rod Hall basket made the score 23-10.

The Cavaliers shot 51.9 percent (14 of 27) from the field and only had three turnovers.

NOTES: Virginia leads Clemson 68-52 in a series that dates to the 1935-36 season. ... Clemson won the first meeting this year, 59-44, on Jan. 12.
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