The body of Rivers work on Tuesday night in No. 18 Clemson's 75-57 victory over at Littlejohn Coliseum did not look good on the offensive end, two points on 1-of-7 shooting, no assists and three turnovers. But on the other end, Rivers had a night for all nights. He held Virginia's Sylven Landesberg to just three points, while limiting the Cavaliers top scorer to 0-for-7 shooting, while inducing three turnovers.
"I was trying to take away his strengths," Rivers said. "That's basically what I was trying to do. I felt we did a good job limiting his touches as well as limiting his scoring opportunities."
With Rivers taking Landesberg out of the game, the Tigers (23-6, 9-6 ACC) used the inside play of Trevor Booker and Raymond Sykes to take Virginia out of the game altogether. Booker finished the night with 13 points and 15 rebounds, while Sykes, playing in his final game at Littlejohn Coliseum, added 14 points and five rebounds.
"It was good to see Ray have that kind of night," Rivers said. "To see what he has been through in his four years of limited minutes it was good to see him understanding things and playing a lot better."
Clemson played a lot better in the second half as they used a 20-2 run in the first eight minutes to build a 52-35 lead.
"Sometimes senior night can be hard emotionally, and those emotions can slow you down. I thought in the beginning we were slow, but the emotions took over and gave us intensity in the second."
Clemson outscored Virginia (9-17, 3-12) 43-26 in the second half.
"We went full court man in the second half," Purnell said. "They got some easy looks in the first, so we took that away and got a few turnovers."
The Tigers turned those turnovers into points as they scored 22 points off the Cavaliers 15 turnovers.
Clemson also dominated the paint, outscoring the Cavaliers 38-20 inside.
"We did a good job of penetrating tonight and we got a couple of dunk downs," Booker said. "When we got the ball down low a couple of times and when they doubled we kicked back out and we knocked down a couple of threes.
"We did a pretty good job of that in the second half, and we really didn't look back from there."
And it got the Tigers a much needed win as they vie for one of those top four spots in next week's ACC Tournament.
"You do not want to lose three games in a row," Purnell said. "It can play with your mind. I believe we are resilient enough, but I didn't want to go there. It was another huge ACC game that we needed to win."
Clemson will try to win another big ACC game Sunday when it closes out the regular season at Wake Forest. That game is set for Sunday night at 6 p.m.