CLEMSON, S.C. — Led by Jayden Gardner (23 points and five rebounds), Virginia (9-5, 3-1 ACC) notched its second straight ACC road win after defeating Clemson (9-5, 1-2 ACC) 75-65 at Littlejohn Coliseum Tuesday night. Gardner, who shot 7-for-11 from the field and sunk nine of his 10 attempts at the free throw line, nabbed his third 20-point performance of the season.
Armaan Franklin also scored in double digits for the Cavaliers after posting 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting and was 4-for-4 at the charity stripe. Coming off the bench, Francisco Caffaro added eight points after making all three of his shots from the field and went 2-for-2 at the line.
Tuesday’s contest saw 15 lead changes, despite the Cavaliers leading 23:14 of game time. Virginia shot 54 percent (25-46) from the field, while the Tigers shot 46 percent (23-50). The Cavaliers won the battle inside, scoring 34 points in the paint and 21 points at the line, while Clemson scored 22 points in the paint and made 10 free throws.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Gardner scored 13 of UVA’s first 25 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The Cavaliers secured their largest lead of the half (34-26) in large to a 14-3 run, which included a Gardner and-1 and six points from Caffaro. After Gardner went to the bench with two fouls at the 3:43 mark, the Tigers erased UVA’s lead with a 10-0 run of their own as Clemson clung to a 37-36 advantage at the intermission. Virginia made all nine of its free throw attempts in the first 20 minutes of play, but Clemson dished out 12 first-half assists, while UVA tallied five.
Neither team led for more than four points for nearly 15 minutes of play in the second half, but then Virginia orchestrated a 7-0 run to take a 67-59 lead after Kihei Clark, who delivered a clutch 3-pointer at Syracuse (Jan. 1), drained a contested three with 4:05 remaining to help UVA tie for its then-largest lead of the game. The Cavaliers held Clemson to without a made field goal for a span of 6:50 late in the second half. The Tigers would get as close as six points (71-65) with under one minute to play, but Gardner and Kadin Shedrick (eight points) both went 2-for-2 at the charity stripe to deliver UVA’s third conference win of the season.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO:
Jayden Gardner. Gardner’s 23 points led all scorers. Despite having shot 2-for-9 against Clemson at John Jones Arena on Dec. 22, Gardner was able to produce one of his best offensive performances of the season in the rematch against the Tigers. In addition to his third 20-point performance, Gardner has scored in double figures in 11 of the Cavaliers’ 14 games so far this season. He has also shot over 50 percent from the floor in six of UVA’s last seven games, a span in which Gardner has averaged more than 17 points per game.
Virginia travels to North Carolina (10-3, 2-0 ACC) on Saturday, Jan. 8. Tipoff at Smith Center is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN.