ACC Basketball

Cavs Lose, Duke Sweeps and B.C. is Hot

Duke Blue Devils

DUKE SWEEPS NORTH CAROLINA

For a team with no depth, they sure do play good at the end and for second time this year the Blue Devils looked like the fresher team against a deeper North Carolina. After scoring 42 points in the game’s first 26 minutes, Duke scored 42 in the game’s final 14, turning a 49-42 deficit into a 84-77 win. The Tar Heels actually held the Blue Devils to just 5-for-25 shooting at one point in the first half, yet had no answer late for Jahlil Okafor (7-for-9 from the floor) and guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. The pair combined for 44 points (for the second time this season against UNC).

Marcus Paige played pain free for the first time in a while and scored a team high 23 points (hitting a season high five 3’s. Brice Johnson delivered 17, although went 14 minutes without a basket during Duke’s run. Kennedy Meeks was held to 1-for-7 from the floor.

While North Carolina will settle for the 5-seed, having lost six of their final ten games, Duke earned the 2-seed in the ACC Tournament and will most likely be second in the nation when the next polls come out.

LOUISVILLE TAKES DOWN VIRGINIA

For a hot minute, it looked like the Cavaliers had pulled out another one when Malcolm Brogdon nailed a “game-winning” three with 16 seconds to play. However, Mangok Mathlang had other plans. His first shot of the game proved to be the real game winner, as he hit a high arcing basket from the free throw line. In was just his third bucket in his last nine games.

While Virginia was once again without Justin Anderson and as a team had little to play for, the Cardinals dominated in the paint behind Montrezl Harrell’s 20 points and 12 rebounds. Louisville managed to out-rebound and force more turnovers for the game. Terry Rozier had a solid game, scoring 11 (without attempting a three), grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out four assists and getting three steals. Quentin Snider was hot early, finishing with 11, hitting three 3’s.

Malcolm Brogdon led Virginia with 17 points, as the Cavaliers lose just their second game of the year. This is the second year in a row Tony Bennett’s squad had wrapped up the regular season title and then went on the road to lose their final game.

NC STATE ROMPS SYRACUSE

Early on, the Wolfpack looked lethargic, spending a lot of time standing around the Syracuse 2-3 zone. The result…an early 25-17 deficit. Yet, that’s when NC State started to really clamp down on the defensive end, which would ignite their offense. At the end of the first half and into the second, the Wolfpack would go on a 29-2 run, led by Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner, who each scored 19 points. The latter made all five of his threes in the second half as NC State’s lead ballooned to 19 at one point. A slight cold spell gave Syracuse a little hope in midway through the second, but in the end the Wolfpack walked away with an easy 71-57 victory.

Over the last three weeks when NC State has started to play well, it’s been because of the defense, especially on the inside. The combination of Lennard Freeman, BeeJay Anya and Kyle Washington blocked seven shots and held Rakeem Christmas in his final game to 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting. For the game, the Orange shot just 35% from the floor, 5-for-19 from deep.

After the game, Jim Boeheim skipped meeting the press saving the world ten minutes worth of sarcastic “no comments.”

NOTRE DAME OVER CLEMSON

In a game that the Irish never dominate, but you never got the sense the Tigers had any shot to win, Notre Dame turned it over just four times, hit seven threes and shot 68% from two-point range to beat Clemson, 81-67. For most of the first half, the game was tight, but a 15-6 run before halftime, opened up a 11-point lead and the Tigers, led by Jaron Blosomgame’s 22 points and 10 rebounds) would never get within single digits in the second half.

Although struggling from deep (1-for-5), Jerian Grant was strong taking the ball to the lane, finishing with 19 points, handing out eight assists. Five different players hit threes, but inside was where the Irish really came on strong. Zach Auguste, who has recently struggled to hang onto his minutes with the way freshman Bonzie Colson has played, had his best outing in weeks. He hit 9-for-13, scoring 19 points.

MIAMI CRUSHES VIRGINIA TECH

Desperate to make an impression on the NCAA Committee, the Hurricanes steamrolled the Hokies early and often. Launching and hitting a ton of threes, Miami took an early 20-point lead and actually led at halftime 46-18. Virginia Tech tried to make it a game early in the second, opening up the half with a 10-2 run, but Miami was not having any of it, expanding their lead with their own 10-0 run, cruising to a 82-61 win.

The Hurricanes were once again playing without Angel Rodriguez and didn’t get much from their usual point sources as Sheldon McCllean scored just six, while Davon Reed had just one bucket (scoring four points). However, three different players had their best games of the season.¬†Manu Lecomte hit five threes and finished with 20 points. James Palmer add 17 (5-for-5 from deep) and Ivan Cruz Uceda chipped in 18. Oddly enough, Miami shot just 35.5% from two-point range, but hit 60% of their 25 threes.

Ahmed Hill lead Virginia Tech with 17 points, while Satchel Pierce added 13, but they simply couldn’t stop Miami on the defensive end.

The victory for the Hurricanes was their fifth road win of the season. They’ve won three of four and six of nine. However, this is a team that still needs a deep run in the ACC Tournament to get an at-large bid to the Big Dance. The fact is, during their little run, the most impressive victory was at Pittsburgh, the 78th best team in Ken Pom’s rankings.

BOSTON COLLEGE BEATS WAKE FOREST

After easily proving to be one of the all-time worst teams in ACC history, Boston College has rolled off three straight wins heading into the ACC Tournament. Behind Olivier Hanlan (19 points, eight assists) and Aaron Brown (13 points), the Eagles had their best performance on the season. They only trailed early and pulled away late in the first half with a 9-2 run. They shot over 60% for the game from both two and three-land, blocking six shots (three by Patrick Heckmann) and forcing 11 turnovers.

Wake Forest got 24 points from Codi Miller-McIntyre and 10 from Konstantinos Mitoglou, although he was just 1-for-6 from three. As a team, the Demon Deacons hit just 5-for-18 from deep. Devin Thomas’ disappearing act continued. After making his team’s first bucket, he went 13 minutes before he hit another and he failed to make a shot in the game’s final 15 minutes.

FLORIDA STATE TAKES DOWN PITTSBURGH

Two weeks ago, the Panthers looked like they were going to sneak into the Big Dance, winning six of eight, including victories over Notre Dame and North Carolina. It’s amazing what one three-game losing streak will do. Pittsburgh led 13-12 early, but that would be the last time they would, as the Seminoles completely shutdown the Panthers.

Pittsburgh ended up hitting just 33% of their shots from the floor, going 5-for-21 from deep. They had three more turnovers (13) than assists (10). Jamel Artis finished with 17, but Michael Young, who was coming off three straight 22-point games, struggled with Florida State’s trees in the middle. He scored just eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.

Freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes led all scorers with 19, getting to the free throw line 10 times. as a team, FSU shot 26 free throws (hitting 18). Senior Kiel Turpin had his best performance in a long time, scoring 10 on just six shots, while Boris Bojanovsky went 6-for-6 from the line. The win ends a three-game losing steak by Florida State.

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