Virginia shot 75 percent from the floor in the second half tonight to beat Clemson, 69-66, for the Cavaliers' second straight Atlantic Coast Conference victory.
Virginia (15-11, 3-8 in the ACC) has won four straight games and seven of nine. Clemson (15-9, 5-7) had won five of its previous six games. The Tigers have not won at Virginia since 1978.
Virginia led by 67-66 with less than a minute to play when Clemson's Vince Hamilton intercepted Tim Mullen's pass and started a fast break. But Raymond Jones missed a layup and fouled Olden Polynice on the rebound. Polynice (17 points, 10 rebounds) made one of two free throws, and Tom Sheehey (16 points) later hit a free throw to give Virginia its final margin.
Clemson forward Chris Michael, who scored a season-high 25 points, kept the Tigers close in the second half with his outside shooting.
"We knew that Michael was shooting only 40 percent from the floor this year," said Virginia Coach Terry Holland, "and we wanted to take advantage of that. But every time we played the percentages tonight, they made their shots."
Michael burned Virginia's zone early in the first half with three 18-footers, giving Clemson a 12-6 lead. With seven minutes left in the half, reserve Mel Kennedy's two layups put Virginia ahead for the first time, 26-23.
Clemson's Harvey Grant got hot, scoring eight of his 12 first-half points in the last four minutes as the teams were tied at 35 at intermission. Grant made six of seven shots in the half, but missed his only second-half attempt.
Virginia gained a 56-49 lead with eight minutes remaining. Mullen made two baskets and then passed to Sheehey for another basket to give the Cavaliers the seven-point margin.
Michael responded with two jumpers and an alley-oop three-point play to narrow Virginia's lead to 60-56. The teams traded baskets during the last five minutes until Virginia's free throws decided the matter.
"We were in a position to win in the last five minutes," said Clemson Coach Cliff Ellis. "You just play and hope it evens out."
"Momentum only lasts as long as the next game," Holland said. "We have to prepare hard in the next few days to be ready for N.C. State. We've put together four straight wins and that's the first time we've done that in a long time."