The Virginia Cavaliers team was the best version of itself Friday night, using lockdown defense and timely shooting to rout the Clemson Tigers 76-56 and advance to face the Duke Blue Devils in the 2023 ACC Tournament title game.
The #2 seed Cavaliers were a model of efficiency, shooting 50 percent and holding Clemson down to 36 percent from the field. UVA finished the game with 40 points in the paint.
Clemson took an 8-7 lead at 15:39 in the first half following 3-pointers by Hunter Tyson and Chauncey Galloway. Kihei Clark scored 3 points early for the Cavaliers. UVA began the game cold from beyond the arc, making just 1 of 4 early.
A layup by Clark put UVA up 11-10 at 14:21, with Isaac McKneely hitting a 3-pointer on the next possession to give the Cavs a 4-point advantage.
Clemson suffered through a poor shooting stretch, going 1 for 7 over 2 minutes as the Cavaliers led 18-13 at the 9:23 mark. UVA also outrebounded Clemson underneath to make things tough for the Tigers with Kadin Shedrick grabbing 3 boards for UVA.
Tyson nailed a 3-pointer at 4:00 to draw Clemson closer at 29-25 as Clemson hit 3 shots in a row to stay within striking distance of the Cavaliers.
The Cavalier defense held Clemson scoreless for over two minutes in the final four minutes, as UVA built a 10-point lead on an 8-0 run with Franklin and Jayden Gardner scoring 8 points for UVA.
UVA led 37-25 at the half. Gardner led the Cavaliers with 9 points. The Cavaliers shot 50 percent in the first half on 16-32 shooting.
Tyson was Clemson's leading scorer at the half with 10.
UVA opened the second half hot, embarking on a 6-0 run to lead Clemson 43-25 at 17:14 as Gardner continued to roll with two field goals.
The Cavaliers poured it on for the remainder of the second half, as Clemson couldn't mount any sort of comeback, shooting just 33 percent. UVA outrebounded Clemson 38-35.
In the end, UVA routed Clemson by 20 points to advance to the championship game against Duke Saturday night.
Gardner led UVA with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Hunter led the Tigers with 15 points.
Clemson, most decidedly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, will await their fate on Selection Sunday.
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