The Virginia Cavaliers didn't have their "A" game, but ground out a 64-57 win over the Clemson Tigers on the road. Taking down the Tigers in Greenville, where Duke, Louisville, Miami, and Pitt all lost earlier this season, is a big one for Virginia. It means that the Hoos have all but clinched an ACC Tournament first-round bye (officially, they've locked up at least a 5-seed, but it would take an unlikely confluence of events for it to occur). They are still in the race for the regular season title, though they'll need losses from Miami and UNC. And their grasp on a 1-seed in the Big Dance is tighter.
|Getting to the line (FT Rate)||28.8||
Here are three takeaways from the win:
1) The Hoos are crashing the offensive boards again
Virginia's offensive rebounding had been slipping, but the team beat Clemson by crashing the boards and converting 10 second-chance points to Clemson's 1. Anthony Gill, who hauled in 4 offensive rebounds tonight, has used them to effectively dig himself out of a slump.
Before the loss to Miami, Virginia had failed to eclipse an OReb% of 31% in 10 consecutive games. That includes a 17% effort against Duke, who struggles on the boards. Now, they've done it three times in a row, primarily because of Gill's efforts.
2) Virginia's depth isn't all that it seemed earlier this year
Marial Shayok, who had a nice game with 9 points on 3-5 shooting and 5 rebounds, was the only UVA player to score off the bench. UVA's depth was a strength earlier this season, but the team hasn't gotten the same contributions lately.
Mike Tobey struggled for the third straight game. In ten minutes of play, he missed both shots he took, turned it over three times, and got beaten badly on defense. When the Hoos took an early 12-0 lead, Clemson got back in the game by going at Tobey, who was responsible for primary or help defense on 8 or their first 12 points. He does deserve credit for two pretty assists. But he's playing himself out of the "sixth man" job and into a position as more of a role player. And Darius Thompson has been nearly invisible in conference play, failing to score more than 4 points since the conference opener.
It's great that Devon Hall and Isaiah Wilkins have stepped up (though Wilkins wasn't great tonight), but the rotation will be a tight one in tournament play.
3) Jaron Blossomgame was unstoppable
Blossomgame scored 31 points, becoming the second player to break 30 points against Virginia this season (Oakland's Kay Felder had 30). He made 6 of his 10 two-point attempts, was 4 of 6 from behind the arc, and got to the line to make seven free-throws. Blossomgame's diversity made him extremely difficult to guard. Wilkins couldn't manage to hang with him, and Jaron responded by scoring his team's first 12 points after halftime. Check out his shot chart:
Brogdon took over responsibility, with heavy help, and had more success, but Blossomgame took the game over for Clemson. However, as in Kay Felder's big game back in December, the rest of the team couldn't quite hold up their end of the bargain; Donte Grantham, Jordan Roper, and Avry Holmes combined to make 1 of 8 twos and 1 of 9 threes