Clemson Falls to Virginia in ACC Semis

Tigers’ postseason hopes now in selection committee’s hands

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Clemson men’s basketball team still remains the only team from the original seven schools who started the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953 not to win a tournament championship.

The Tigers’ championship hopes in 2023 were dashed thanks to a Virginia team that was more physical and efficient in a 76-56 thumping Friday in the semifinal round at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.

With the loss to the second seed Cavaliers (25-6, 15-5 ACC), No. 3 Clemson now waits to see what the NCAA Selection Committee decides on their postseason hopes. Coming into Friday’s game, many bracketologist had the Tigers as one of the first-four out, though they finished third in the ACC standings and advanced to the league’s semifinal round of the tournament.

Despite an impressive win over NC State in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Clemson’s third blowout win over the Wolfpack this season, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said on College GameDay’s pregame show Friday that the Tigers’ strength of schedule was in the 300s, and it goes against what the selection committee has done in the past.

“I’m not sure I’d want to bet a mortgage payment on the committee going against a trend they have consistently upheld,” he said.

As for the game itself, it just was not the Clemson’s night.  Virginia used a 21-2 run that started during the last 2:23 of the first half and carried over into the start of the second half to take control of the game.

“Everything was going their way in that run and was not going ours,” Clemson forward Hunter Tyson said. “They beat us up on the offensive glass a little bit. They made shots, we couldn’t.”

The Tigers (23-10, 14-6 ACC) never recovered. The Cavaliers led by as many as 23 points, 52-29, in the second half.

Clemson trailed just 29-25 before the Virginia run.

The Tigers missed their last five shots of the first half and watched as Virginia went on an 8-0 run to take a commanding 37-25 lead into the break.

“We got great shots and good looks, but sometimes that just happens,” center PJ Hall said. “We got great looks at the basket and sometimes shots don’t fall.”

Clemson shot just 36 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes and was outscored 22-8 in the paint. Virginia had a 7-2 advantage on the offensive glass and a 6-1 edge on second chance points.

Stat of the Game: Virginia outscored Clemson 40-22 in the paint.

Injury Update: Clemson guard Alex Hemenway did not play after having an emergency appendectomy last Sunday. Virginia was without big-man Ben Vander Plas, who broke his hand in practice earlier this week.

Player of the Game: Hunter Tyson, playing in his last ACC Tournament game, scored 15 points and six rebounds to lead Clemson. He finished the evening 5-for-9 from the field, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

Key Moment: Clemson missed its last five shots of the first half and watched as Virginia went on an 8-0 run to take a commanding 37-25 lead into the break.

Up Next: Clemson now waits for its NCAA Tournament fate. The NCAA Tournament selection show will begin at 6 p.m. on CBS.

“We think we have done enough,” Hall said. “Guys like Jay Bilas, on the air, fighting and say he believes in us and we have done enough. Everyone in this locker room believes that too.”

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