Tigers, Cavs tip at noon

Week two of ACC play gets started on Saturday when 11-win Virginia makes an appearance in Littlejohn Coliseum.

WHAT: Clemson vs. Virginia
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, January 12 (12:07 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson +1
TV: ACC Network (Mike Hogwood, Debbie Antonelli)

Virginia doesn't offer any respite for a Clemson team that's struggling to find its jump shot.

The Cavs, led by fourth-year head coach Tony Bennett, rank among the nation's best defensive teams in seven categories: assists per game, points per game, effective field goal percentage, field goal percentage, possessions per 40 minutes, true shooting percentage and points per possession.

In part, Brad Brownell attributed that success to the system's roots.

"You know what you're going to get with a Tony Bennett coached team. You're going to get great man-to-man defense, pack line defense that his dad really implemented so well at Wisconsin and Washington State," Brownell said.

On the other end of the floor, Virginia operates out of a motion offense.

"They're a very disciplined team that moves the ball around and takes good shots," Brownell said. "They're a hard team to beat. They don't give you any easy baskets. Obviously, we struggle to score a little bit. Points will be difficult to come by."

Leading scorer Joe Harris is averaging a career-best 15.1 points. He's also hitting 48 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Akil Mitchell, who is averaging a career-best 12.6 points per game, has reached double-digits in 12 of 15 games this season.

"Certainly, Joe Harris is a terrific player," Brownell said. "Probably the key to their team, I think Akil Mitchell is also pretty good, a guy that's improved through the course of his career."

Aside from the 27.7 points Harris and Mitchell combine to score, the rest of the team is averaging 36 points per game.

But Virginia doesn't need much scoring from the supporting cast if Harris and Mitchell are hitting on the offensive end. This season, the Cavs are 9-1 when scoring at least 60 points.

Virginia thrives on defense.

"[They] make you take guarded shots, just not give up anything around the basket area," Brownell said. "So, when they shoot, they send, probably, two to the boards, occasionally three. Send at least two and, sometimes, three guys back in transition, to set their defense so they don't get beat that way."

The focus of the Cavs' defense relies more on discipline than high pressure.

"They're going to be in very good position. They don't get out of position much," Brownell said. "They protect 17-feet and in. They double the post almost every time it gets in there. They believe in making you take guarded perimeter jump shots."

Virginia (11-4, 1-1 ACC)
G #1 Jontell Evans - 2.7 PPG, 3.3 APG (5-11, 180)
G #2 Paul Jesperson - 4.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG (6-6, 197)
G #12 Joe Harris - 15.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG (6-6, 211)
F #25 Akil Mitchell - 12.6 PPG, 9.3 RPG (6-8, 234)
F #32 Darion Atkins - 7.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG (6-8, 222)

Clemson (8-6, 0-2 ACC)
G #12 Rod Hall - 6.2 PPG, 3.8 APG (6-1, 210)
G #3 Adonis Filer - 8.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG (6-2, 190)
F #32 K.J. McDaniels - 11.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG (6-6, 200)
F #24 Milton Jennings - 9.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG (6-9, 225)
C #31 Devin Booker - 11.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG (6-8, 250)

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