Virginia’s London Perrantes thought about getting to Clemson a little early. After all, who doesn’t love a parade?
“I thought that was cool,” Perrantes said of the Clemson’s football national championship parade and ceremony Saturday morning. “I wish I got to witness that. It was crazy packed coming in here.”
Perrantes put on a show of his own in the game, making four 3-pointers and scoring a season-high 25 points to lead the 19th-ranked Cavaliers to a 77-73 victory against the Tigers.
It was the senior’s second consecutive game with 20-plus points after coach Tony Bennett encouraged him to shoot more often.
“He kind of gave me that confidence to go out and play,” Perrantes said.
The Cavaliers (13-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 58 percent from the field in their second consecutive win since dropping two in a row to Pittsburgh and Florida State. Marial Shayok tied his career high with 17 points, and Isaiah Wilkins finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.
Virginia blew a nine-point lead in the second half, but Perrantes stepped up for the Cavaliers down the stretch. After Clemson tied it at 70 on Jaron Blossomgame’s three-point play with 2:18 left, Perrantes made his fourth 3-pointer to put Virginia back in front.
Perrantes pushed the lead to 75-70 with another basket with 41 seconds left, prompting many of the fans to head for the exits.
“When we need him the most he shows up,” Shayok said. “When he’s rolling, everybody’s rolling.”
It was a festive day at Clemson (11-6, 1-4), with the school holding a big party to celebrate its first national championship in football in 35 years. But the basketball team dropped its fourth straight game since winning nine in a row.
Blossomgame led the Tigers with 22 points, and Avry Holmes and Gabe DeVoe each scored 15.
“This is our fourth league game that’s come down to the last minute and we’ve only won one,” said Brad Brownell, Clemson’s seventh-year coach. “That’s frustrating for all of us.”
The Cavaliers shot 10 for 18 on 3-pointers, just the second time this season they finished with double-digit baskets from behind the arc.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett felt for Brownell, stung by several late losses that have left the Tigers with a 1-4 start in league play.
“I think Brad Brownell is one of the better coaches in our league and the country, he’s that good,” Bennett said. “They’re in a spot that anybody could be there. It’s such a fine line.”
A frustrated Brownell said it’s up to his players to dig down deep and find a way to succeed in close games in a “grown-man world.” Brownell has seen his share of close losses this season despite have a seemingly improved offense with returning all-ACC first teamer Blossomgame and talented transfers like Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas.