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The Big Preview: UVA basketball versus Clemson in the ACC Tournament Semifinals

Taking a look at tonight’s ACC Semifinal matchup between the Wahoos and the Tigers.

Clemson v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Wednesday at this year’s ACC tournament featured a pair of big blowouts. The North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Boston College Eagles by 24 and NC State took down the Virginia Tech Hokies by 20. The Heels then were shut down by Virginia in a nine-point win, while the Wolfpack were shut down by Clemson in a 26-point win.

The task for the Virginia Cavaliers today is, again, to shut down a team that is playing well and riding high following a big win. These two teams faced off just 10 days ago, with Virginia walking away with a seven-point victory. Here is our preview from that game.

That game followed Virginia’s poorest stretch of the season, back-to-back losses which followed a pair of near-losses to two of the ACC’s worst teams. Virginia badly needed a good outing and they delivered. The defense was better than it had been previously, and although the team still couldn’t hit outside shots (or free throws), they were good enough in the paint that they led for the final 34 minutes of the game and held a double-digit lead for much of the second half.

Ryan Dunn, Virginia’s sensational freshman, played 18 minutes in that game, scoring 10 points on 3/3 shooting and 3/4 from the line. He had five rebounds, plus a steal and a block.

Dunn is a highlight machine. What’s better, the block or the finish? Or maybe the vision from Reece to make this pass?

Reece was at his best last night against UNC. He took some questionable shots early in the game. Beekman’s improved as a shooter, but he should not be shooting threes early in the shot clock, especially considering he’s made just 3/11 over the past five games. However, we like the aggression going to the basket from Reece, who has been far too passive in some games recently.

This is Beekman at his best, and his ability to do this will play a large role in how far Virginia goes in the postseason. Though he scored just seven points on 3/7 shooting against Clemson, Reece had eight assists, two blocks and four steals, and helped keep Clemson’s offense from getting going. He also completely shut down UNC’s Caleb Love last night.

This is also Reece at his best, turning defense into offense. These easy buckets are so huge when the offense is struggling as it has been. The defense from McKneely is also good, moving his feet to prevent his man from getting by and forcing the pass which Reece was prepared for.

The Hoos shot just 5/19 from downtown against the Tigers. Five of those misses were Kihei, who has made just six of his last 29 attempts (20.6%) from deep. Clark is a better shooter than that, and you wonder if heavy minutes have caused some fatigue.

As with the first matchup, the key to stopping the Tigers is preventing the open threes. They shot 11/24 on threes last night, with eight of those makes coming from front-court players. Stretch-bigs have given Virginia problems in the past. Ryan Dunn is one antidote to that, as his length and quickness make those shots tougher, while Kadin Shedrick is another if he plays like he did last night.

These are similar teams in style, though Clemson plays a bit quicker. Both teams really dig in on defense and make you work for shots. Clemson is less comfortable playing offense at that pace, and that was the Wahoos advantage the last time. The Tigers took some poor shots, while Virginia played with more patience. This continued last night, as UVA was able to slow the game way down against the Heels. Do that again, and there’s a good chance Virginia reaches the ACC final.