CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Joe Harris scored 16 points, including a critical 3-pointer with about three minutes left, and No. 17 Virginia won its ninth straight Atlantic Coast Conference game for the first time in 32 years with a 63-58 victory over Clemson on Saturday.
The Cavaliers (21-5) moved to 12-1 in ACC play, also for the first time since Ralph Sampson patrolled the middle in the 1981-82 season. Not that it came easily as Virginia’s No. 1 defense was matched up against a team in Clemson that ranked second nationally in fewest points allowed.
The Tigers (15-9, 6-6) trailed 49-48 on Rod Hall’s layup with 3:38 to go. That’s when Harris struck for a 3 and Anthony Gill followed with a three-point play for a 55-50 lead.
Clemson closed to 59-58 on K.J. McDaniels’ 3 with 20.7 seconds left, but Malcolm Brogdon made two foul shots as the Cavaliers held on.
McDaniels had 24 points before fouling out in the final seconds. He was Clemson’s only player in double figures.
Brogdon and Mike Tobey had 14 points each. The 6-foot-10 Tobey was a force underneath, making seven of nine shots. Gill had 12 points for the Cavaliers.
Virginia came in on a roll the school hadn’t seen since Sampson’s stellar days. The Cavaliers also won a sixth ACC road game, the first time that happened since Sampson’s senior year.
The Cavaliers had already clinched their third consecutive winning mark in ACC play, something they last achieved in — you guessed it — during Sampson’s final three seasons.
Virginia also entered with the nation’s top defense, allowing just 55.5 points a game this season.
But Clemson’s defense is right behind, second nationally at 55.7, and stood strongly against the Cavaliers over the first 20 minutes.
The Tigers showed some scoring punch early, making their first six shots and eight of their first 12 to lead 21-14 after DeMarcus Harrison’s 3-pointer with 8:30 left in the half.
That’s when Virginia turned things up on both sides of the ball during a 12-0 run to move in front. Harris, who missed two foul shots moments earlier, had a driving layup to start the Cavaliers’ charge, then hit a pair of 3-pointers — the last which put Virginia in front for the first time, 24-21.
Virginia eventually pushed the lead to 29-23 when Clemson rallied back with a three-point play and short banker by McDaniels.
Harris missed a step-back 3, but Tobey had the strong tip in right before the horn sounded and Virginia went to the locker room ahead 31-28.
Virginia shot 63.6 percent (14 of 22) in the opening half, while Clemson — 14th of 15 ACC teams in field goal percentage — was 11 of 22 for 50 percent.
The Tigers were playing at home for the just the second time in four weeks after a gauntlet of road games (at Pittsburgh, at North Carolina, at Florida State, at Syracuse and at Notre Dame) where they went 1-4 with the lone win coming at FSU. Clemson ended the stretch with a 68-64 double overtime loss to the Irish.
Clemson played without starting center in 6-foot-10 Landry Nnoko, who was out with the flu. Without him, the Tigers managed only five rebounds in the opening half.