GAME NOTES: The Virginia Cavaliers will attempt to bounce back as they visit Littlejohn Coliseum to take on the Clemson Tigers in an Atlantic Coast Conference contest.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers began ACC action with a nine-point victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels, but they could not build on that success and dropped a 55-52 decision to Wake Forest on Wednesday night. The loss to the Demon Deacons dropped Virginia to an 11-4 overall record and gave it a 1-2 mark in true road games. The Cavaliers are one of the best in the nation at playing it slow. They lead Division I schools in scoring defense, limiting their opposition to just 51.1 ppg. Although they rank last in scoring in the ACC they still outscore their foes by an average of 12.6 ppg.
Clemson has sustained back-to-back setbacks since entering conference action as it lost, 71-66, at home to Florida State before enduring a 68-40 setback at Duke on Wednesday evening. The Tigers really had trouble in Durham as they managed only 10 points in the opening 20 minutes. Brad Brownell's squad follows a similar but not quite as effective template as the visitors as Clemson is third in scoring defense (57.1) and 11th in the ACC in scoring (64.7).
The Cavaliers have won two of their last three matchups versus Clemson to extend their all-time series lead to 67-52. The Tigers earned a 60-48 decision in the last meeting during the 2011-12 season.
Virginia continued its excellent defensive play its last time out, as it held Wake Forest just under 15 points below its scoring offense average. However, the Cavaliers could not sink enough of their own field goal attempts to come out on top. A trio of players reached double figures as Mike Tobey put up 14 points, Joe Harris netted 13 points, and Akil Mitchell tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Still, the Cavaliers went just 20-of-55 from the floor as a team and fell despite a 40-24 edge in the rebounding battle. Harris is the leading scorer at 15.1 ppg, while Mitchell is close behind with 12.6 points to go along with his team-best 9.3 rebounds per tilt.
While Clemson managed only 10 points in the first half, it also limited the very explosive Blue Devils to just 25. The Tigers ended up making 15-of-53 field goals (28.3 percent) for the game. Devin Booker totaled 12 points and a game-best 15 rebounds to notch his second consecutive double-double. Booker's consistent effort on the interior has yielded team-leading averages of 11.9 points and 8.1 boards per contest. K.J. McDaniels is also scoring in double digits regularly at 11.0 ppg. Freshman guard Adonis Filer made his first career start against Duke and finished with six points and two steals. It will be interesting to see how the rookie performs as a starter in a more friendly environment.
Both of these squads like to slow down the tempo and see who can get more stops. Unfortunately for the hosts, Virginia is much better at finding wins using this method. The Cavaliers will be hungry for a victory after letting their last one get away from them.
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