ACC Basketball

Irish and Devils Roll, Panthers Collapse

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DUKE CRUSHES WAKE FOREST

The Blue Devils opened the game up 12-0, soon went on a 19-0 run and finished off a brilliant first half with a Tyus Jones’ four-point play and led 51-15. Ball game. Oh wait, they played a second half, too. It didn’t matter, as Duke won 94-51.

The Blue Devils were led by Grayson Allen, yes Grayson Allen, who had a career-high 27 points and no, most of them were early and not just in mop up duty. All-American candidate Jahlil Okafor was held to six points, because simply, Duke didn’t need him as he took just two shots (made both). This was the first time the freshman center did not score in double figures and all Wake Forest had to do was let everyone else score and lose by 43. They would eventually take a one-point lead as they held Notre Dame without a bucket for the first ten minutes of the first half (allowing just four free throws).

NOTRE DAME OVER LOUISVILLE

With a week off, the Fighting Irish looked pretty damn fresh. After falling behind 6-0, they went on a 10-0 spurt, running an efficient offense through Jerian Grant, who kept finding open shooters. Notre Dame would shoot 58% from the floor in the first half, as Louisville struggled to find any energy on defense, producing just three steals in the first half.

However, in the second, the Cardinals came out in attack mode on both sides of the floor and erased a 11-point halftime deficit in under four minutes, as all five starters scored on that run.¬†Eventually, they were able to take the lead 47-46 as they held the Irish without a basket for nearly 10 minutes. Everything was coming up red. The crowd, which seemed asleep in the first half was rocking, the players were knocking, this was Louisville’s time. Yet, after another missed three pointer by Notre Dame, freshman Quentin Snider went down and took a bad running three of his own just seconds into the shot clock. And as I always say, an opponent’s good run always gets started by the a bad shot. Well…

On the following possession, Bonzie Colson, the undersized freshman who has played fantastic lately, pulled down a Demetrius Jackson missed three pointer over the much bigger Anas Mahmoud and it was like the two teams switched bodies. The Irish would end the game hitting nine of their final ten shots, while Louisville would make just two of their final 11. Only Montrezl Harrell’s ability to stay strong and get to the line kept the Cardinals in contention, but eventually Notre Dame would pull away to a 71-59 win.

Four Notre Dame players scored in double figures, led by Demetriu Jackson who had 21. Louisville’s Harrell was a beast inside, scoring 22, pulling down 12 boards, but everyone else struggled, especially Terry Rozier, who appears to be collapsing at the end of the season. Against the Irish, he was just 4-for-11 from the field, 0-for-4 from deep and let’s be honest, that’s been his standard stat line lately.

For Louisville, they are now 23-7 on the year, 11-6 in the ACC, as they fall back into a tie with North Carolina for fourth place after suffering their third home loss in the ACC. Worse yet, they have Virginia coming to town this weekend. Meanwhile, Notre Dame improves to 25-5 on the season, 13-4, locking up third place in the ACC.

MIAMI OVER PITTSBURGH

Heading into this contest, the Panthers were the bubble team with a shot to still earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Yet, watching this game, you would have never guessed it. Led by Davon Reed, who hit his first seven shots, the Hurricanes kept things close in the first half. In the second half, the Canes’ Sheldon McClellan shook off a rough 1-for-7 start and scored seven straight points late to give Miami a four-point lead they would never surrender.

Michael Young continued his hot streak, scoring 22, grabbing 10 boards, dishing out four assists, while Jamel Artis delivered 14, but it wasn’t enough in the end, as Arits missed a three with 19 seconds to go that would have tied the game. In fact, Pitt’s top scorer missed on his final four shots, all threes.

For Miami, they improve to 19-11 on the year and 9-8 in the ACC. With a road game at Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes have a good chance at finishing two games above .500 in the conference. Yet, it still might not be enough, as they’ll need a semi-deep run the ACC Tournament to get a NCAA Tournament spot.

As for Pittsburgh, they might have just played their way out of an at-large bid. They’ve lost two straight and four of seven, falling to 19-11 on the year, 8-9 in the ACC with a semi-tough trip to Florida State this weekend.

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