CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett was looking for a little more strength and a little more energy when he inserted freshman Justin Anderson into the starting lineup Thursday night.
Anderson made the move look brilliant with 14 points, two assists, three steals and a highlight reel dunk on a night when everything went Virginia’s way during a 78-41 ACC win against Clemson. The Cavaliers led 38-10 at halftime and never let up in their record 13th consecutive victory at John Paul Jones Arena.
“He brings energy on the court, in the locker room, on the bus, everywhere. The kid’s nonstop,” junior forward Akil Mitchell said of Anderson. “It’s good for our team.”
Anderson scored Virginia’s first basket with a finger-roll layup, later had a block on Jordan Roper and gave the fans a reverse alley-oop slam. On the next possession, he fed freshman Evan Nolte for an open 3-pointer.
The Tigers (12-10, 4-6), who shot 77 percent during the second half of a 59-44 victory Jan. 12 against the nation’s 10th-best field-goal percentage defense (37.3 percent), had no such success this time. Not until Devin Booker’s putback with 12 minutes, 4 seconds left made it 55-22 did they have more points than Joe Harris.
Harris finished with 21 points and Mitchell 16.
“Those guys were not only really ready to play, but when they got off to the great start, they didn’t let up on the gas,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “They didn’t let up in any way on either end. We were clearly on our heels from the outset.”
The game essentially was over by halftime. The 10 points was the lowest half against Virginia since Maryland did it during 1981, and Clemson became the eighth team to fail to score 20 points in a half against the Cavaliers this season.
K.J. McDaniels topped the Tigers with 10 points, but scoring average leader Booker had only seven. Clemson shot 16 of 52 percent overall.
Maryland 60, Virginia Tech 55: Jake Layman scored 14 and Alen Len 10 to help the Terrapins (17-6, 5-5) rally for the ACC victory at Virginia Tech (11-11, 2-7).
Erick Green had 29 points for the Hokies, who were ahead 27-24 at halftime but shot worse than 34 percent from the field for the game. Cadarian Raines added 14 points and five blocked shots for Virginia Tech.