Virginia made 13 straight free throws -- seven by Andrew Kennedy -- in the final two minutes to defeat Clemson, 83-81, in an Atlantic Coast Conference game today.
Kennedy finished with 19 points and Olden Polynice had 18 points and 13 rebounds in leading the Cavaliers (10-4, 1-2 in the ACC).
Clemson Coach Cliff Ellis called junior center Polynice dominating and the key to Virginia's victory. "Polynice was a force today and has always been a force against Clemson," Ellis said.
Virginia overcame a five-point Clemson lead, tying at 70 with 2:21 left when Richard Morgan hit a 10-foot shot from the right wing. That was the Cavaliers' last field goal, all the rest of their points coming from the free throw line.
Fouls hurt the Tigers twofold. Not only did they give the Cavaliers the opportunity to hit 23 of 33 free throws (to 13 of 18 for Clemson), but it cost the Tigers three players.
Ellis said Glen McCants being in foul trouble was a big factor in the game even before the Tiger center fouled out with 3:49 remaining. Horace Grant fouled out with 1:46 and Grayson Marshall with 33 seconds left.
"We just could not hit the baskets down the stretch that we needed and we missed some key one-and-one situations," Ellis said.
The score was 34-34 at halftime and the lead changed 13 times during the game.
With Virginia ahead, 55-52, the Tigers scored 14 of the next 20 points for a 66-61 lead.
Tom Sheehey scored three of Virginia's next five points as the Cavaliers tied at 66 with 3:36 to play. After ties at 68 and 70, Virginia began its march to the free throw line.
Mel Kennedy scored 15 and Sheehey 12 for Virginia.
Anthony Jenkins scored 23 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds and Marshall had 18 points for Clemson (13-2, 1-1).
"In the first half . . . we fell behind and Clemson was obviously playing extremely well, shooting the ball from the perimeter," Virginia Coach Terry Holland said. "It didn't seem to matter what defense we were playing. We were having trouble getting to them, yet our kids gutted it out."