February 6, 2020 / 2:19 AM / 14 days ago

Virginia clamps down on defense to beat Clemson

Braxton Key made two late 3-pointers and Virginia extended its winning streak against Clemson to 10 games with a 51-44 victory Wednesday in Atlantic Coast Conference action in Charlottesville, Va.

Feb 5, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett looks on during the first half of the game against the Clemson Tigers at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Key finished with 19 points and made 4 of 6 3-pointers. He entered the game shooting just 17.8 percent (8 of 45) from behind the arc.

Mamadi Diakite added 13 points, Jay Huff had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Kihei Clark tallied 10 assists for Virginia, which never trailed and led by as many as 12 points before the Tigers staged a second-half rally.

The Cavaliers (15-6, 7-4 ACC) have won four of their last five games and improved to 10-0 this season — 97-2 under head coach Tony Bennett — when allowing fewer than 50 points.

Aamir Simms scored 16 points, Al-Amir Dawes had 11 and Tevin Mack scored 10 for the Tigers (11-11, 5-7), who have lost four of their last six.

Virginia hasn’t lost to Clemson since 2013 and hasn’t lost to the Tigers at home since 2008.

Clemson scored in the 40s for the third time this season and for the second straight game, coming off a 56-44 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday.

Down by 12 points at halftime, the Tigers trimmed Virginia’s lead to 36-34 when Simms’ 3-pointer capped a 12-3 run.

After Clemson missed a couple of 3-point shots that would have taken the lead, Key knocked down a triple with 4:50 left to put Virginia up 39-34.

After Clemson’s Clyde Trapp missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 1:53 to play, Key answered with another clutch 3-pointer to push the Cavaliers’ lead to 45-39. Key’s two free throws made it 47-39 with 51.2 seconds left and the Tigers never recovered.

The Cavaliers improved to 13-0 when leading at halftime.

Virginia held a 14-2 lead after seven minutes, and Clemson didn’t reach double figures until Dawes made a layup with 4:32 left in the half.

The Tigers cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 21-14 on a 3-pointer by Mack, but Key answered with his own 3-pointer and added a second-chance layup to give UVA a 26-14 halftime lead.

Clemson, whose previous low for any half this season had been 19 points, ended the first half with more turnovers (seven) than made field goals (6 of 21).

—Field Level Media

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