CHARLOTTESVILLE, FEB. 16 -- Cliff Ellis has tried just about everything to extricate his Clemson Tigers from this dismal season. He's slowed down his offense for some games and sped it up for others; he's shuffled his starting lineup nine times in the last 11 games.
It's been a frustrating ride for Clemson, which has fallen to the ACC cellar after capturing the regular season title a year ago. So when today's yeomanlike effort resulted in a 57-47 loss to Virginia, Ellis wondered what else he possibly could try.
"A year ago we were at the top of the mountain," he said. "Now we're at the bottom of the valley looking up."
For much of the game at sold-out University Hall, Ellis seemingly had discovered an effective means of stifling Virginia. A diamond-and-one defense coupled with a slow, methodical offense wreaked havoc on the No. 19 Cavaliers, who shot just 38 percent. But Virginia (19-7, 6-5) forced Clemson into 18 turnovers and held the Tigers (10-13, 1-9) to five points the last eight minutes.
"Patience is definitely a virtue because we had to have a lot of it today," Virginia Coach Jeff Jones said. "Clemson came in with a great game plan."
Ricky Jones, Steve Harris and David Young rotated on Bryant Stith, who took only seven shots. But he made four -- including two of three three-pointers -- and sank six of seven free throws to finish with 16 points.
"Opposing teams think this is the defense that can stop us, but if my teammates can make the shots it's not that much of a factor," Stith said.
Virginia's Anthony Oliver played for the first time since breaking a bone in his shooting hand against Davidson Jan. 21; he scored six points despite a sizable soft cast that he said did not affect his shooting.
Dale Davis led Clemson with game highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds. But the 6-foot-11 senior was noticeably frustrated with Ted Jeffries and Matt Blundin's constant pestering, and he did not score after an alley-oop dunk midway through the second half.
The 104 points are 25 fewer than the next-lowest-scoring game in the ACC this season.