CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.— Malcolm Brogdon doesn’t know what the ceiling is for No. 2 Virginia, but he knows the Cavaliers aren’t there yet.
They were close to perfect after halftime Tuesday night, using a 29-6 run to start the half to take command on their way to a 65-42 victory against Clemson. It was their record 20th consecutive home victory at John Paul Jones Arena.
“I think we have so much to improve on.” Brogdon said after leading the way with 16 points. “I don’t think we’ve peaked yet, but I think we have a lot to improve on and we have to keep staying humble and hungry.”
The run to start the second half put the game away, but the seeds for it came late in the first half, with the Tigers within 19-17 before Justin Anderson made consecutive 3-pointers around a Clemson basket to make the lead 25-19 at the break.
“We were laboring a little bit and that certainly was huge,” coach Tony Bennett said of the baskets, one of which came from about 24 feet with a defender in Anderson’s face. “It looked like it was going to be a possession by possession game.”
Instead, the Cavaliers started the second half with a 9-0 run, then tacked on 16 more unanswered a short time later.
“That made a huge difference,” Tigers coach Brad Brownell said of Anderson’s late 3-pointers. “Sometimes the game is as simple as that. It’s a guy or two making a shot, or a tough shot, or a deep three. Gets the crowd going.”
Anderson added 15 points for Virginia (16-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). The victory, with three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson in attendance, gave Virginia it first 4-0 start in conference play since the 1994-95 season.
Jaron Blossomgame scored nine points to lead the Tigers (9-7, 1-3). Clemson, which had a scoring drought of 6:50 in the first half, didn’t score for the first five minutes of the second half as Virginia expanded its lead to 34-19.
“Just add us to the list of all the other teams that can’t score against them,” Brownell said.
With the score at 40-25, a three-point play by Darion Atkins and a 3-pointer by Brogdon started the 16-0 burst to finish the run, making it 54-25, and coach Tony Bennett began substituting liberally.
Virginia leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 51.1 points per game.
Clemson: The Tigers made six of their first eight shots. After halftime, they made 6 of 23 (26.1 percent). ... Blossomgame also grabbed 10 rebounds. ... the Tigers had only four assists.
Virginia: Virginia has played three ranked teams so far this season — No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 14 Maryland and No. 17 VCU — and beaten them all on their home floor. ... Anthony Gill scored eight points, all in the first 10 minutes.
Virginia had just four turnovers, its fifth consecutive game with fewer than 10.
Clemson opens a three-game homestand against Syracuse on Saturday.
Virginia plays at Boston College on Saturday.