'Hoos on pace for historic defensive year

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Only three times this season have the Cavaliers allowed fewer points than they did in Saturday's 63-43 win at Clemson. It marked a season-low in the young ACC schedule, but the defensive effort was not much better than normal.

Through 15 games, Virginia is allowing an ACC-low 51.2 points per game. That average drops to 50.3 points per game allowed in ACC play. The 43 points Clemson scored on Saturday was a season-low. Florida State and Boston College also scored season-lows against the Cavaliers.

If the 51.2 points per game allowed holds, it would be the lowest total against a Tony Bennett coached team at Virginia, just beating the 51.5 points per game allowed by the 2014-15 team. The Cavaliers (15-0) are off to the best start since that team started 19-0.

"If you're working them and then coming down and they can't get the easy looks," Bennett said, "that, over the course of the game, is kind of what we talk about. Its a battle of wills. Who's going to bend or break first? So, we definitely do that, but the goal is uncontested, good looking shot, then make them shoot the contested shots every time down."

The Cavaliers face back-to-back teams ranked in the AP top-10 this week when ninth-ranked Virginia Tech comes to John Paul Jones arena on Tuesday before traveling to top-ranked Duke on Saturday.

Freshman point guard Kihei Clark is expected to play in both of those contests, as he has every game during his first year on Grounds. A left wrist injury couldn't even keep Clark out of a game, injuring the wrist against Morgan State, playing against VCU, and having surgery on December 10, Clark sat out the Wahoos exam break before making his "return" at South Carolina.

Bennett explained Saturday Clark has moved from the cast he wore after the surgery to a splint. From there, he might move to just tape on the wrist or be free of any restrictions.

"He's getting close," Bennett said. "He's got an immobilized left wrist. He can't move his left wrist. Just think about playing with a frozen wrist. I marvel at how he's been able to manage with that and it hasn't changed his heart at all for sure."

Since the injury, Clark is averaging almost 23 minutes a game off the bench, scoring two points and handing out two assists per game.