CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Braxton Key scored 19 points, including two critical 3-pointers in the final 5 minutes, and Virginia beat Clemson for the 10th consecutive time, 51-44 on Wednesday night.
Key also grabbed eight rebounds while Mamadi Diakite added 13 points and eight boards for Virginia (15-6, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). The reigning national champions have won three straight since losing four times in a five-game span.
Aamir Simms scored 16 points for the Tigers (11-11, 5-7). Clemson twice got within one possession in the closing minutes, bringing a hush over John Paul Jones Arena, but Key made a 3-pointer each time. He was 4 for 6 from beyond the arc in the game after having made just 8 of 45 attempts in his first 17 games.
Key’s first big 3 came ended a 12-3 run for the Tigers that pulled them within 36-34 with 5 minutes to go. After they again closed within 42-39, Key made another with 1:28 to go and followed by making both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity to push the advantage to eight with 51 seconds left.
Jay Huff had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for Virginia.
Clemson: The Tigers have been somewhat like Virginia in their offensive difficulties. In games where they fail to score 70 points, they were 2-10 coming into their game against the nation’s stingiest defense. In losses, they’ve failed to reach 60 points six times, with lows of 45 (Yale) and 44 twice (Wake Forest, Virginia).
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ very deliberate approach on offense at times seems to have the same effect on them as a baseball pitcher who works very slowly has on his defense, causing concentration issues or sluggishness. They often seem to be passing the ball around the perimeter more looking for someone willing to take a shot than for someone open to take a shot.
The Tigers return home to face Notre Dame on Sunday night.
Virginia travels to No. 5 Louisville for a Saturday afternoon contest.