Clemson seemed to be rolling right along without Donte Grantham, leading 23-16 with six minutes left in the first half, but the Tigers fell into an incredible scoring drought that allowed Virginia to not only close the gap, but run away with the game.
After building that 7-point lead, Clemson (16-4, 5-3 ACC) scored just four points in the following 16-plus minutes of game time, and when they looked up the lead had turned into a 14-point deficit. From there it was much of the same, as the Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0 ACC) stifled the Tigers on their way to a 61-36 win in Charlottesville.
Gabe DeVoe led Clemson with 11 points, but all of those came in the Tigers’ early run. Marcquise Reed and Elijah Thomas had just 6 and 2 points, respectively, while Shelton Mitchell failed to score.
Clemson shot just 32 percent from the field and was just 3 of 20 from three-point range.
Devon Hall led Virginia with 14 points, while Kyle Guy added 12.
-Clemson played about as well as you could hope for in the first 13 minutes, and it appeared we might have a game on our hands. The collapse that followed was hard to watch, especially given the early success.
-It’s easy to say this team missed Donte Grantham, but that wasn’t the story. Reed, Mitchell, and DeVoe could not have played worse as a group, aside from DeVoe’s first-half outburst - which included several uncontested layups. They combined for just seven made baskets and 10 turnovers and went 0 for 9 from three-point range as a group. Just a terrible offensive effort from the backcourt as a whole. Virginia’s defense had a lot to do with that, but the complete ineptitude from these three is why the final score was such an embarrassment.
-Elijah Thomas spent most of the second half on the bench. He wasn’t in foul trouble, so I’m not sure what that was about. Not that he was particularly effective while he was in there.
-Aamir Simms played pretty well in Grantham’s stead and was arguably the lone bright spot of the game. He posted 9 points and 6 rebounds, which Brownell would probably take every game for the rest of the season if you offered it to him.
-The Tigers actually got some decent minutes off the bench from Trapp, Spencer, etc.
-This was not a game Clemson fans should have expected to win. Virginia has consistently been a bad matchup, as it is for a lot of teams. Competing would have been nice, but this was not the ideal first game to be figuring out what you’re going to do without Grantham.
-Clemson turned the ball over 19 times. Several of them were just dumb. I don’t have to explain why that is a problem against Virginia.
-Pretty much a “burn the tape” game. Give Reed and Mitchell the memory-eraser treatment from Men in Black.
-Hopefully this game was an anomaly for the four remaining usual starters and they don’t actually need Grantham THAT badly to play well themselves. Clemson has enough to worry about with trying to find people to fill the void left by Grantham without having to worry that their other go-to guys will play poorly.