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Men’s basketball continues tough ACC stretch against Virginia

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Toby Corriston
PJ Hall (24) and Joseph Girard III (11) while be crucial factors in starting and maintaining the Tigers’ offensive momentum against Virginia.

After pulling off a narrow victory against Louisville on Tuesday, Clemson returns to Littlejohn to take on Virginia in another ACC matchup. Virginia has been dominant in this series in recent memory, winning 14 out of the last 15 matchups.

Despite their victory over Louisville, the Tigers were disappointed in their performance on Tuesday.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well again,” head coach Brad Brownell said after the game. “We missed a lot of good shots. But the last 10 minutes of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half, we played very well.”

The Tigers have struggled with consistency the entire season. When they are playing their best, the team could be considered elite. However, just like what happened against Lousiville, the Tigers have developed a habit of playing down to their competition.

Virginia is coming into Saturday’s matchup on the heels of a five-game winning streak. The Cavaliers are led by guards Reece Beekman, who is averaging 13.3 points per game to go along with 6.2 assists, and Isaac McKneely, who contributes to the cause with his shooting from behind the arc. Currently, McKneely is first in the ACC for three-point percentage with an impressive 48.1% shooting.

Star center PJ Hall and the Tigers, however, are eager to stop the momentum of the Cavaliers. Hall is coming into the game fresh off of a 25-point performance against the Cardinals, while Chase Hunter and Joseph Girard III followed his lead, adding 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Brownell had nothing but praise for Hall following Tuesday’s game.

“That’s why he’s good; he makes plays at crunch time,” Brownell said. “He makes plays when you need them. He wants the ball. He’s an outstanding player, and I’m lucky to coach him.”

Hall, Girard and Hunter will look to get their team back into the top 25 in the final month of the regular season. After being left out of the tournament last year, the Tigers are making a strong argument to go dancing for a national championship. Before that, however, the Tigers must win their regular season games, starting with Virginia.

Although Virginia has a reputation as one of the best basketball schools in the country, Brownell’s Tigers refuse to be intimidated. With Hall working in the paint and Girard commanding the perimeter, the Tigers will be hard to stop.

The matchup will tip off Saturday at 2 p.m. in Littlejohn Coliseum.

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About the Contributors
Brett Porter, Senior Reporter
Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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