It's becoming a little bit of a broken record, but Virginia suffered its fifth straight loss at the hands of a Clemson squad that looked nothing short of determined to make the NCAA Tournament. It was clear that 4 games in 4 cities over 8 days had taken its toll on a young Cavaliers group who is watching their NCAA hopes diminish before their very eyes.
Coming into this game, first year Virginia head coach Tony Bennett found himself in a position he's never been in -- he was coaching a team on a 4-game losing streak. At Washington State, no Cougar team of his had ever fallen more than three times in a row. However, on a night when nothing was going right, with the team shooting 35% from the floor and 15.4% from three-point land, Coach Bennett and UVa would see this streak continue to 5. Virginia (14-11, 5-7 ACC) fell 72-49 to a Clemson team (19-7, 7-5) that led by as many as 32.
Mike Scott led Virginia in scoring, putting up 14 points with Sylven Landesberg contributing 13 and Sammy Zeglinski with 11. Zeglinski had 8 rebounds, followed by Landesberg with 6 and Scott with 4. There was essentially no production from our other players.
Clemson allegedly only committed six personal fouls during the entire game (2 in the first, 4 in the second) compared to Virginia's fourteen.
Certainly a large part of this can be attributed to both mental and physical fatigue. With four games in eight days, three of which were on the road, there's no wonder that Virginia made more airballs than three-pointers, particularly against the Tigers, who had a week to prepare for the matchup. Virginia was not able to do any practice on Thursday, as NCAA rules require one day off out of every seven for the players. The Wahoos only had one day to prepare for Clemson.
"We're definitely feeling it a little bit," Landesberg said. "Guys' legs are fatigued, but that's not a good excuse. We worked hard over the summer to be able to prepare for things such as this. We just have to be mentally tough more than physically at this point."
Also interesting is that Bennett switched over to a zone defense in the second half, despite being on the record as despising the zone, as he believes that his Pack-Line man defense can do everything the zone can without the pitfalls.
"We had worked on it a little bit before," Bennett said. "They scored so much in the paint that we wanted to give them a different look. It wasn't a great zone and eventually they broke it down."
Virginia plays its 5th game in 11 days, in a 5th different city, against Miami on Tuesday.
"We just have to get back to having fun like we were earlier in the season," Will Sherrill said. "Playing hard, playing great defensive basketball, and playing together on offense."