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Preview: Tigers meet Virginia in ACC Tournament semifinal

Max Knipstein // Clemson Athletics

Dillion Hunter makes a layup at the 2023 ACC Tournament quarterfinals against NC State.

It’s a rematch in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Friday night and another chance for the Clemson men’s basketball team to provide another huge statement in their NCAA Tournament hopes.

On Friday night, the Tigers (23-9, 14-6 ACC) will face off against No. 13 Virginia (24-6, 15-5 ACC) at the Greensboro Coliseum in the semifinal of the ACC Tournament.

These teams met 10 days ago when the Cavaliers came out on top in Charlottesville, Virginia, winning 64-57 over Clemson on Feb. 28. Head coach Brad Brownell and his team are looking for a different outcome on Friday night.

The Cavaliers, the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, won their first game of the tournament against North Carolina before Clemson played on Thursday night, winning 68-59 over the Tar Heels.

“You’re not going to speed Virginia up,” Brownell said of Virginia’s play. “Tony (Bennett) and their group, they’re unbelievably disciplined. They’re going to work the ball on offense and grind you. And then, defensively, they are hard to score against.”

Unlike Clemson’s high-scoring effort in their last game against the NC State Wolfpack, the Tigers are ready to play slower than what they usually like, as the Cavaliers centralize around a slow offense and win through defensive stops.

“They’re great one-on-one defenders, and they have a great defense.” forward Hunter Tyson said after Thursday’s game. “So you got to move the ball against them. It’s a completely different style of game from what we played tonight.”

On the offensive side, the Tigers have to see success from everybody on the floor, which helped them succeed against the Wolfpack. Players like Tyson and PJ Hall will look to continue playing key roles in Friday night’s game.

Likewise, Brownell would like to continue to see great production from role players Ian Schieffelin and Ben Middlebrooks, who played vital roles in the quarterfinal.

With March Madness looming, a win against the Wahoos would give Clemson a resume that would almost certainly cement a bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

“The team that executes the best will win,” Brownell said. “I have all the respect in the world for those guys. They do a tremendous job every year, but we are obviously looking forward to playing in the semifinals.”

This is the first time since 2018 that the Tigers have made the ACC Tournament semifinal, as they look to win it all for the first time in school history.

Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. EST, and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.

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Griffin Barfield, Asst. Sports Editor
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