No. 4 Virginia expecting 'live' atmosphere at Clemson
Two seasons ago, Virginia traveled south and was Clemson's opponent in a noon Saturday game on the heels of the Tigers' football team winning a National Championship. On that day, the Cavaliers escaped with a four-point win in front of a lively crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum.
A similar circumstance will arise on Saturday.
No. 4 Virginia puts its perfect record on the line when it takes on a struggling Clemson squad five days after the Tigers football team knocked off Alabama for its second title in three seasons.
"We're really looking forward to the challenge because we were just talking about how live that atmosphere was two years ago," Virginia guard Ty Jerome said. "It should be another awesome atmosphere."
Virginia (14-0, 2-0 ACC) is a hot ticket for any opposing team's fans nowadays, as the Cavaliers won their 12th straight true road game and 11th straight ACC road game Wednesday night at Boston College. The Cavaliers strangled the Eagles, dropping them 83-56 using both their stifling defense and a suddenly hot offense.
"I think we are a versatile offensive team," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after the victory. "I think our offense won us that game tonight."
In the eight years prior to Bennett's arrival, Virginia won just 12 total ACC road games.
Clemson (10-5, 0-2) has lost eight straight games in the series and has suffered through an underwhelming start to its season. The Tigers have beaten the teams they were supposed to, but are still without a breakthrough win.
"All in all, it was pretty much an ugly game," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said after his team's 61-53 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday. "They just outplayed us a little bit tonight."
The Tigers have dropped their first two ACC games to start January and may need a win over one of the nation's two remaining unbeaten teams to salvage their season. Clemson is one of five teams in the ACC without a conference win so far, while Virginia is one of five teams still without a blemish.
Virginia's ability to score the ball this season has gained the attention of naysayers around the country. The Cavaliers have five legit scoring options and currently boast three players averaging in double figures with two others averaging 7.4 points per game.
Junior Kyle Guy continues his hot streak and is averaging 15.4 points per game while pulling down 28 rebounds over his last four games. Braxton Key, who transferred from Alabama, has shown his ability as he currently leads the team in rebounds (5.7).
"Braxton has strong hands, he's a strong guy and that's one thing I really like," Bennett said of his newest weapon.
Clemson will need to get production from guard Shelton Mitchell, who is averaging 13.1 points but shot just 2 of 11 against Syracuse and its zone defense on Wednesday night. Marcquise Reed continues to pace the Tigers on offense averaging 19.3 points per game.
The Tigers will be honoring their National Championship football team at halftime of Saturday's game.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2019