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No. 4 Virginia stays perfect with 63-43 road win at Clemson as Huff shines

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Hoos win their 12th straight road game in ACC play.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers overcame an ugly first half to pull away from and defeat the Clemson Tigers, 63-43. Virginia stays in the ranks of the unbeaten at 15-0 (3-0 ACC), alone with the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines. With the win, the Hoos pick up their 12th straight ACC road victory, dating back to 2017.

For the second time in three years, Virginia spoiled Clemson football’s national championship celebration with a win at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Kyle Guy led the way for the Hoos in the first half with 13 points, but wouldn’t add to his total in the second. After quiet first halves, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter went off in the second with eight and 12 points, respectively.

Jay Huff had the breakout performance Virginia fans had been waiting for as the redshirt second year unloaded for 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting with seven rebounds and one block.

Jack Salt and Braxton Key both finished with seven points and eight rebounds apiece as the Hoos scored 20 points in the paint. Virginia shot 40% from the field and went 10-for-23 (43%) from three. After turning the ball over six times in the first half, Virginia took care of the ball in the second as they finished with just eight total turnovers in the game.

Defensively, the Hoos made life miserable for the Tigers as they held Clemson to 26% shooting from the field and 3-for-19 (16%) from three. Marcquise Reed led Clemson with 14 points, eight of which came at the free throw line.

Clemson drops to 0-3 in the ACC, though they are likely better than that record indicates as they’ve faced No. 1 Duke, Syracuse, and No. 4 Virginia to open conference play.

The first 6:34 of the game were pretty ugly as both teams struggled to put any points on the board. Clemson came up empty on their first seven possessions of the game, and it took Virginia three possessions of their own to break the scoring open with Guy getting the Hoos’ first basket with 17:32 remaining in the first half. Guy doubled the score

Marcquise Reed put Clemson on the board with a long two with 14:58 to play, and Guy responded with a deep three as he had all seven of Virginia’s points early. While the Tigers were unable to score, the Hoos weren’t taking advantage as they started the game 3-for-9 with two turnovers at the under-16 timeout (which came at the 13:26 mark).

Jack Salt made a move on Elijah Thomas with six seconds left on the shot clock and used his left hand to finish with the hook to put Virginia up 9-2 with 11:24 left in the half. Salt connected again, taking advantage of the Clemson defense that was daring him to score.

Two free throws from Shelton Mitchell were Clemson’s first points in 5:55 of game play, and cut Virginia’s lead to 11-4. Braxton Key became the first non-Salt or Guy scorer with a nice move in the post, and Hunter joined the action with two free throws to push Virginia’s lead to 11.

Mitchell hit a three to cut it to 15-7, but Guy answered with his second of the game. Aamir Simms beat Diakite for Clemson’s first points in the paint. On the other end, Guy started getting into the groove as he hit another three to make it 21-9 with 5:16 to play. Hunter picked up his second foul, sending Reed to the line where he made both and put Clemson in double digits.

A telegraphed pass from Salt led to a steal and break for David Skara, who was fouled on the layup attempt. He made both to pull Clemson within eight at 21-13. Skara hit a runner in the lane to give the Tigers some momentum, but Key quieted the crowd with a three from the top of the arc. Reed got two back on more free throws to make it 24-17 with under three minutes to play in the half.

Kihei Clark, wearing an even thinner brace on his surgically repaired hand, hit true on a three, but Key was called for a foul on the other end. Thomas missed both, but scored in the post after Guy’s three-point attempt rattled out. Reed went back to the free throw line after a foul called on Diakite trying to rebound an offensive miss, and he stayed true at the line as Clemson closed within six with :39 left.

Guy missed a long three at the half to send Virginia into the half with a 27-21 lead. The Hoos turned the ball over an uncharacteristic six times in the first half, and Ty Jerome and Hunter combined to go 0-for-5 from the field. The offense, which was clicking at Boston College on Wednesday night, struggled to connect as they shot 38.5% from both the field and from three.

Guy led the Hoos with 13 in the first half as Key had five points and Salt four. Ten of Clemson’s 21 points in the first half came from the free throw line as the Tigers went 10-for-12 from the charity stripe. Reed’s eight points (six of which came at the line) led the Tigers.

Virginia opened the second half with a miss, and Thomas immediately cut Clemson’s deficit to four with a move in the lane. Salt kept a miss by Jerome alive, getting it right back to the third year who composed himself and hit a jumper from the free throw line for his first points of the game. Reed missed from the wing, but Thomas took advantage of a mismatch in the post with Guy and easily put the rebound back for the bucket.

Diakite fouled Reed on the way to the basket, sending the high-percentage shooter to the line for the and-one opportunity. He missed it, and Virginia led by two with 17:25 left in the game. Hunter got his first field goal of the day—a much needed three-pointer—at the 16:34 mark.

Reed returned to the free throw line after being fouled by Salt, making one of two. Huff, who entered the game after Salt’s third foul, got a defensive stop on Thomas, hit a three-pointer, stopped Thomas again, and hit one-of-two free throws to put Virginia back up 36-28. After a miss by the Tigers, Jerome stepped into a three-pointer and capped off a 7-0 run over 1:13 that put the Hoos up by 11 with 13:31 left in the game.

Key forced a turnover, and Jerome found Huff for the alley-oop. Thomas answered on the other end, but Hunter tickled the twine with his second three-pointer of the game. Skara momentarily halted Virginia’s momentum with a two in the paint, but Jerome got in on the action with another three, giving the Hoos a 47-32 lead with 11:06 to play.

Virginia added to their lead as Hunter hit a lefty in the lane after spinning away from his man. Huff made one-of-two at the line, but Reed stopped another mini-scoring run by the Hoos with a layup. Hunter pushed the lead back to 18 with a layup that circled the rim five times before dropping. Key’s rebounding was outstanding all game, corralling his own miss and powering up for the bucket.

John Newman III got on the scoring sheet with a two-pointer to make it 54-37 with 7:31 left in the half. A Salt tip-in ended a long offensive possession for the Hoos, and—after a couple misses on the other end by Clemson—the Kiwi big man added to the lead with one-of-two at the free throw line.

Clark made two at the line before Skara hit Clemson’s second three of the game to make it 59-40 with just under three minutes to play. Huff continued his breakout performance, blocking a long two on one end and sending home an emphatic dunk on the other. Huff added one final dunk, and Newman canned a three with under nine seconds left to close the final gap to 20 points.

Next up, Virginia hosts No. 9 Virginia Tech at JPJ. Tip time is 8pm and the game will be televised by Raycom Sports.