No. 7 Virginia Completes Clemson Sweep, 84-65
Feb. 28, 2001
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Donald Hand tried his best to inject someexcitement into his final home game. Even he thought he failed.
“The game was real boring,” Hand said Wednesday night after getting 15points, eight assists and four steals as No. 7 Virginia beat Clemson 84-65.
“We played to their pace tonight. For us to be as good as we’re capable of,we have to come out, play our style and just let it be known that we’re goingto push it. That’s when we’re at our best,” Hand said.
In the first half, with Hand leading a fullcourt press, Virginia forced 17turnovers and turned them into 19 points.
“We handled the ball extremely poorly in the first half, but all of thecredit goes to a very tenacious, feisty Virginia defense,” said Clemson coachLarry Shyatt, whose team finished with 25 turnovers.
Hand had all four of his steals in the opening half, which also featuredseveral missed dunks and a technical foul against Shyatt.
“I wanted to go out and bring a lot of energy to the team, play with a lotof excitement,” said the four-year starter who is 13th on the career scoringlist. “It would have been a terrible Senior Night if we had lost.”
The Cavaliers (20-6, 9-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), coming off a hugevictory over No. 4 North Carolina on Sunday, were never in danger against theTigers (11-17, 2-13), who were largely without scoring leader Will Solomon.
“I would have been happy with a 1-point victory, to be honest,” Virginiacoach Pete Gillen said, “after the Carolina game Sunday and the emotion ofSenior Night.”
Solomon flew into Charlottesville earlier Wednesday after staying behind inClemson nursing the flu, Shyatt said. Solomon played only in short bursts, was1-of-7 from the field and finished with seven points in 18 minutes.
Tomas Nagys led Clemson with 19 points, while Dwon Clifton had 10.
Virginia led 42-33 by halftime and never let the Tigers closer than 11points despite shooting just 41.7 percent.
Hand was 5-for-14, but missed his first seven 3-point attempts beforefinally connecting with 5:10 to play. Chris Williams led the Cavaliers with 17points, and Stephane Dondon, also in his final game, added 11.
But it was Hand, who bridges the end of the Jeff Jones era, when Virginiabasketball was down, to the return to prominence under Gillen, who drew hiscoach’s – and the crowd’s – biggest praise on Senior Night.
“I thought our pressure was the difference, and Donald was a big part ofthat,” he said. “He played harder than anybody else on our team.”
With 34 seconds left, the fourth and fifth seniors, seldom-used walk-onsJosh Hare and Greg Lyons, drew another huge cheer when they entered the gamewith Virginia ahead 81-65. Hare then added to the fury, hitting a 3-pointerwith 7 seconds remaining for the final score.
“That was icing on the cake,” Gillen said.