|No. 2 Virginia aims to continue streaking vs. No. 18 Clemson|
After dispatching Wake Forest 59-49 on Sunday night for a 10th straight win, No. 2 Virginia returns home to face No. 18 Clemson on Tuesday night in a pivotal Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.
Virginia (18-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) currently holds a two-game lead over Clemson (16-3, 5-2) and owns a six-game winning streak over the Tigers.
Clemson will be the first of two straight ranked opponents the Cavaliers will face ahead of their Saturday showdown with No. 4 Duke.
The Cavaliers are perfect at John Paul Jones Arena this season (12-0) and will face a Clemson squad that wrapped up the weekend with a positive, but a big negative.
Clemson knocked off Notre Dame 67-58 to notch its fifth conference win but lost a big part of the team in the process. Senior forward Donte Grantham suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the second half and he will now have to watch the rest of his final season from the sideline.
"I'm disappointed that Donte's career at Clemson had to end this way," coach Brad Brownell said in a statement. "He was putting together a terrific season statistically, but he really helps this team in so many ways."
Grantham was Clemson's second-leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Virginia overcame a two-point halftime deficit in which it scored its fewest points in a half this season (22) against Wake Forest on Sunday, to pull away for a 10-point win. Wake Forest became the ninth Virginia opponent to be held below 50 points.
"In the second half, we got loose a little bit in that zone and got some clean looks," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "I think, to be in that spot (in a tight game) ... this is good. ... Can we dig a little deeper? And I thought our guys did a solid job."
The Cavaliers will get a reprieve at home after playing their last two games on the road in the midst of a stretch where five of seven games are away from Charlottesville.
Clemson is the conference's third-stingiest defense behind just Miami and Virginia, allowing just over 65 points per game this season. In Grantham's absence, the Tigers will need to find offense from someone else as they now have just four players that average above four points per game.
The Cavaliers continue to spread the wealth on offense as they currently boast just two players averaging in double figures, but there are seven players that average at least five points per game. Sophomore guard Kyle Guy scored 17 points to lead Virginia over Wake Forest.
Virginia owns a 74-52 advantage in the series between the teams, including a 6-1 mark at home. The Cavaliers have won eight of the last 10 meetings but face a Clemson squad with their highest ever ranking heading into John Paul Jones Arena.