|Posted on March 9, 2018 at 9:20 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The top-ranked team in the nation and top-seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) men's basketball tournament drew the 4th-seeded Clemson Tigers in the semifinals round, and Clemson drew blood in the first half.
Clemson was ahead 20-13, taking advantage of a Virginia offensive drought from 12:34 to the 7:24 mark, a span of five minutes and 10 seconds where Virginia went 0-for-7 and senior guard Devon Hall turned the ball over twice.
Mamadi Diakite was responsible for the field goal at 12:34 and also for ending the drought with a field goal at the 7:24 mark for the Cavaliers.
Including that field goal by Diakite, Virginia went on a run of their own during a Clemson drought, tying the game at 20 apiece and not stopping there, getting out to a nine-point lead at the break, 32-23. The Cavaliers finished the first half on a 19-3 run.
After a layup by Gabe DeVoe at the 9:33 mark, the Tigers would not make a field-goal attempt for the remainder of the first half, scoring three points in nine minutes and change, all at the charity stripe when junior guard Shelton Mitchell made all three of his free throws after getting fouled while shooting from long range with 1:07 left in the first half.
Tigers' junior forward Elijah Thomas' jumper just 18 seconds into the second half broke the field-goal drought for Clemson, which lasted almost 10 minutes going back to the first half. Thomas had the first nine points of the second half for the Tigers.
Clemson got to within two possessions on multiple occasions down the stretch, but Virginia had an answer for everything.
DeVoe's tough take to the rim in traffic made it a five-point deficit for the Tigers, 61-56, with 25.9 seconds to play.
The remainder of the scoring would come from the charity stripe with senior guard Devon Hall making three free throws for the Cavaliers and freshman forward Aamir Simms made two for the Tigers, with the Cavaliers holding onto a two-possession win, 64-58.
Sophomore guard Kyle Guys led all Virginia scorers with 15 points, followed by Hall with 10 and Diakite also with 10, his coming off the bench.
Mitchell and Thomas were the two players in double-figures for Clemson, Mitchell with 18 and Thomas with 15.
With the victory, the top-ranked team in the nation will move on to face the Tar Heels of North Carolina in an ACC Tournament finale that will feature two different styles, with Virginia wanting 30-second possessions and North Carolina moreso going for 10- to 15-second possessions.