Huff, puff: Cavs blow away Tigers

Re­serve post player helps U.Va. pull away from Clem­son to stay un­beaten

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS + - BY DOUG DOUGHTY

CLEM­SON, S.C. — All of a sud­den, un­ranked Clem­son was in the game with the na­tion’s No. 4-ranked men’s bas­ket­ball team … and then it wasn’t.

The Tigers got as close as 2 points in the sec­ond half — and had two 3-point at­tempts to take the lead — be­fore Vir­ginia went on a 9-0 run, sparked by re­serve post player Jay Huff.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 red­shirt sopho­more, had 11 points and seven re­bounds in 10 min­utes as the Cava­liers pol­ished off Clem­son 63-43 at Lit­tle­john Coli­seum.

Six points came in a 91-sec­ond span and gave the Cava­liers their big­gest lead to that point at 41-28.

It was the 13th straight road vic­tory, 12 against ACC op­po­nents, for Vir­ginia (15-0, 3-0 ACC). Clem­son dropped to 10-6 and 0-3.

Go­ing into the game, the Cava­liers were ranked No. 1 in the coun­try in scor­ing de­fense, al­low­ing 51.8 points per game, and were sec­ond in field goalper­cent­age de­fense (25.1).

Clem­son shot 25.9 per­cent.

Vir­ginia shot 40.4 per­cent from the field and was bet­ter from out­side the 3-point arc (10 of 23) than from in­side (13 of 34).

Six U.Va. play­ers had at least one 3-pointer, but the dif­fer­ence for the Cava­liers was the emer­gence of Huff, a 7-foot1, 232-pound red­shirt sopho­more.

“I’ve been us­ing him in the first half of the past few games,” U.Va. coach Tony Ben­nett said. “I didn’t to­day be­cause of matchups.

“We didn’t get off to a great start, Jack [Salt] got in foul trou­ble and I wanted to give Jay a look. There’s still room for all of us to grow de­fen­sively, but he’s mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Of­fen­sively, he was very good.”

Huff had not pre­vi­ously played dou­ble-fig­ure min­utes in an ACC game.

Kyle Guy had 13 points, and De’An­dre Hunter scored 12 for the Cava­liers.

Clem­son started the day with a na­tional cham­pi­onship foot­ball pa­rade and party just a few steps away at Death Val­ley. The bas­ket­ball Tigers had hoped to add to the good feel­ings with their first win over Vir­ginia since 2012.

In­stead, the Cava­liers turned up their trade­mark de­fense to make it a long af­ter­noon for Clem­son and keep their sta­tus as the only un­de­feated team left in the con­fer­ence this sea­son.

Ben­nett preaches

“road ball” to his play­ers through­out the year, know­ing how im­por­tant it is to get your share of wins on the road in a com­pet­i­tive and dif­fi­cult league like the ACC.

“If you’re sound and your game doesn’t change, re­gard­less of the en­vi­ron­ment, it can al­low you, if you’re home or on the road, to stay true to that,” Ben­nett said. “This team, they don’t get out­side of them­selves.”

The Cava­liers are re­lent­less and pre­cise on both sides of the ball. Ty Jerome, a dou­ble-digit scorer, had not made a field goal in the open­ing half, yet hit two key 3-point­ers in Vir­ginia’s de­ci­sive run in the sec­ond half. He fin­ished with 8 points.

The Tigers have lost three straight ACC games, and each time they strug­gled to score early.

They trailed Duke 40-33 at the break and lost 8768, then were down 40-32 at Syra­cuse in a 61-53 loss. In this one, Clem­son trailed by 12 points in the first half and, despite cut­ting things to 29-27 early in sec­ond, could not stay close.

Clem­son’s bad shoot­ing show, the fourth worst shoot­ing per­for­mance in team his­tory, means three of the Tigers’ poor­est shoot­ing games came against the Cava­liers.

The worst came in 1994 when the Tigers shot 23.8 per­cent at Vir­ginia, while the sec­ond worst came the next sea­son, also at Vir­ginia.

Vir­ginia hosts No. 9 Vir­ginia Tech on Tues­day night.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vir­ginia’s Kyle Guy shoots a 3-pointer over Clem­son’s Shel­ton Mitchell dur­ing the first half of the Cava­liers’ 13th straight road vic­tory. Guy scored 13 points.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The 2018-19 Clem­son cham­pi­onship foot­ball trophies are dis­played dur­ing half­time of the Tigers’ bas­ket­ball loss to vis­it­ing Vir­ginia.

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