CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Sam Hauser and Tomas Woldetensae had 14 points and four 3-pointers each as No. 18 Virginia won its 11th straight over 12th-ranked Clemson to stay perfect in Atlantic Coast Conference play with an 85-50 victory Saturday night.
The Cavaliers (9-2) improved to 5-0 in the league, their best start since opening the conference 12-0 in the 2017-18 season. They figured to have to work to penetrate Clemson’s league-leading defense, but instead took control from the start with their accurate shooting and own defensive grit.
Virginia, second in the ACC to Clemson in fewest points allowed this season, forced the Tigers to shoot from way outside, something they couldn’t do with success against the Cavaliers.
Aamir Simms hit Clemson’s first field goal less than a minute in, then went ice cold from the field as the Tigers missed their next 13 shots over a 10-minute span while Virginia opened a double-digit lead.
When Tigers freshman PJ Hall finally broke the shooting drought, Virginia was ahead 20-5 and cruising.
Hauser, the Marquette transfer, hit 4 of 5 from behind the arc as he hit for double figures for the 10th time in 11 games.
Woldetensae had season highs in points and 3s. Trey Murphy III added 13 points, while Kihei Clark and Jay Huff had 12 points each for Virginia, which finished with its biggest margin of victory in an ACC game since topping Wake Forest 70-34 in February 2015.
Hall, Clemson’s 6-10 freshman, led the Tigers with eight points. Clemson gave up a season-high 15 3-pointers.
Virginia had its fun in slicing up Clemson’s defense in the opening half, making 13 of 25 shots the first 20 minutes as it stretched the lead to 24 points.
Clemson (9-2, 3-2 ACC) hadn’t played since topping North Carolina State 74-70 in overtime on Jan. 5. A few days later, the team paused activities and postponed games at North Carolina and Syracuse due to the novel coronavirus.
The team returned to practice this week to face the Cavaliers.
THE BIG PICTURE
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ only loss in the past nine games was to No. 1 Gonzaga last month. Now, Virginia seems to have found its stride during ACC play, winning four of its five league games by double digits.
Clemson: The Tigers had rallied from behind to win their previous three games against Florida State, Miami and North Carolina State. They put themselves in too big a hole to climb out of against the talented Cavaliers.
Virginia returns home to play North Carolina State on Wednesday night.
Clemson plays at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.