In the first seven minutes of Virginia's ugly 49-47 victory over Clemson on Wednesday night, Virginia fans couldn't help but think, "Sammy's BACK!" The junior guard went 4-for-4 beyond the arc in the first seven minutes to open up a 14-1 lead for Virginia en route to their second ACC win in seven tries.
By all accounts, this was not a pretty game. Virginia had flashes of solid defense in the first half, which almost completely broke down in the second as fans watched their 16-point halftime lead whittle down to nothing with only 49 seconds to go in the half.
Farrakhan hit a jumper with just 0:34 on the clock, and scored six of the Cavaliers' final seven points. Clemson's Tanner Smith committed a hard foul on Farrakhan when Clemson was down by one with just 0:02 to go. Because a Virginia trainer had to run onto the court after Farrakhan stayed down, Farrakhan was forced to be taken out, leaving Clemson coach Brad Brownell -- not Tony Bennett -- to select who would take Farrakhan's free throws. Brownell chose Sene, who averages just 55.6% on the season. Giving the crowd reason to cheer louder than it had all night, Sene hit the first free throw, though missed the second.
It was Sene's only point of the game.
A few notes here:
- At 8,684, it was one of the least attended games of the season, which was abundantly clear on the television. There was essentially no crowd pressure against Clemson, though credit the students for re-energizing the team when the game was tied in the final minute.
- After his first career double-double, against Wake Forest, Sene had only one point and four rebounds against Clemson.
- Clemson's 13 first-half points are the fewest scored in any half by any team in JPJA. Virginia's 49 points were the fewest in a win since a 48-44 win over Northwestern on Dec. 1, 2004.
- Clemson's leading scorer Demontez Stitt (13.5 points per game) was held to zero points in the first half, though he had eight in the second. For the most part, Virginia has done an excellent job taking its opponents' leading scorers out of the game early, before the half-time adjustments. Wake Forest's Travis McKie (12.6 ppg) had only three in the first half. Maryland's Jordan Williams (17.3 ppg) had two. Boston College's Reggie Jackson (18.0 ppg) had four.
- That notwithstanding, Virginia has incredible difficulties closing out, falling to Wake, Maryland, and BC, and dangerously close to losing last night's contest against Clemson as well. Virginia has had double-digit leads in six of eight ACC games this season, yet the Cavaliers are just 3-5 in the conference.
Virginia next travels to Miami on Saturday, February 5 for a 2:00 tip. The Hurricanes are 12-9 on the season, but just 1-6 in the ACC, having lost four straight (FSU, NC State, UNC and Virginia Tech).