Battle for Blue Ridge (School) as Cavaliers Face Clemson

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UVa sophomore Mamadi Diakite UVa sophomore Mamadi Diakite
Diakite rising above the defense at the Blue Ridge School Diakite rising above the defense at the Blue Ridge School
Clemson freshman Aamir Simms Clemson freshman Aamir Simms
Simms dunking at the Blue Ridge School Simms dunking at the Blue Ridge School

Virginia big man Mamadi Diakite is heating up at just the right time. 

He scored 10 points against Louisville Thursday, including six straight at a pivotal point in the second half. 

It was the fourth time in the last five games that Diakite has scored at least nine points off the bench.

"I can go left or right," says Diakite.  "If you think I'm going to my right-handed hook shot, I can go with my fadeaway shot.  If you think I'm going with my fadeaway shot.  I can switch it up, and go on the other side.  So I'm just trying to be a versatile person."

Diakite will face two of his Blue Ridge School prep teammates Friday night: Clemson's Scott Spencer, and Aamir Simms.

Simms says, "Every game, they tell me to rebound, play hard, play smart, and aggressive, so anytime I'm going into the game, I tell myself that repeatedly, and always be ready and confident."

Spencer adds, "Coach talks about grit all the time, so just to come out there and compete, as hard as we can, for 40 minutes, and just keep going at it, every time."

Virginia crushed Clemson by 25 points earlier this season, holding the Tigers to just 13 points in the 2nd half.

Tigers' head coach Brad Brownell says, "I think sometimes Virginia, because they play slow on offense, they don't get enough credit for how good their players are.  Sometimes everybody gets so into their scheme, but you don't win 17 out of 18 ACC games unless you have really good players."

"We're a possession by possession team, so there's not going to be too many home run plays," says senior Devon Hall.  "We're going to get everybody's best shot.  We have to play like that on every possession."

Sophomore Kyle Guy adds, "Every time we come out on to the court, we just try to remember our pillar of humility, and I think we do a really good job of that.  Not getting too high, or too low, staying positive, and leaving it all on the court."

Top-seed Virginia and 4-seed Clemson tip-off Friday night at seven o'clock in Brooklyn, NY.

Both ACC semifinals games will be airing on NBC 29.