ACC Basketball

The Morning After…

Rakeem Christmas

Duke Over North Carolina
In what could arguable be called the best game of the year, the Blue Devils rallied from nine down with 2:38 left to play to force overtime, where they managed to escape with a 92-90 victory over the visiting Tar Heels. Duke came out hot against an awful North Carolina defense, hitting 12 of 14 shots. However, down 13 in the final moments of the half, Carolina suddenly became world beaters and owned the next 20 minutes, outscoring their neighbors from Durham 43-21, dominating in the paint, forcing turnovers and owning the glass. Yet, behind Tyus Jones’ nine-straight point, Carolina’s inability to defend without fouling and missing the front end of one-and-one’s, Duke was about to overcome the Tar Heels in the end.

With a bum ankle (after stepping on Kennedy Meeks’ foot), Jahlil Okafor “was held” to 12 points and 13 rebounds. However, all five of Duke’s starters hit double figures, while their two guards, Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones combined for 44 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. For North Carolina, Meeks and Brice Johnson had 18 a piece, but Marcus Paige struggled with just five points on 2-11 shooting. Duke remains two games back of Virginia for first in the conference, while UNC has dropped four of five (only win was over Boston College) and is now just 2-6 against the nation’s top-25.

For a good 20 minutes, the Cardinals did not miss Chris Jones. Led by Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier and Jones’ replacement Quentin Snider, Louisville controlled the first half, leading by six or seven points for nearly the entire half. However, in the second the shots stop falling. They missed 14 of their first 19 in the final twenty. Harrell, who had 19 total points in the game, only had four in the second half. Meanwhile, the Orange just continued to pound it inside. Rakeem Christmas, coming off his worst game and a rough three-game stretch, scored 29 points, on 9-10 shooting, 11-13 from the free throw line. Syracuse didn’t take the lead until the nine-minute mark in the second half, but once they got it, they refused to let it go.

For a long while, it looked like it was Olivier Hanlan vs. the Seminoles and for a half, Hanlan was winning. Hitting 10 of his team’s 14 first half buckets, Boston College took a five-point lead at halftime, led by their junior point guard’s 23 points. However, in the second half, coach Leonard Hamilton began to rotate nearly every player onto Hanlan, holding him to just nine points. The Seminoles took the lead for good at 49-48 after a Xavier Rathan-Mayes layup and they never trailed again. Hanlan finished with 32 points for the second straight time, while Aaron Brown delivered 14 for the Eagles. The rest of the team scored 13 points on 5-14 shooting. Rathan-Mayes and Phil Cofer each scored 13, but Devon Bookert led all Seminoles in scoring with 18 points, hitting 4-5 from deep. As a team, the Noles hit 8-12 from three and they’ve now won five of seven games, holding out for a NCAA Tournament bid.

The Hokies came out and hit their first three shots, then proceeded to miss 23 of their next 30. Yet, heading into halftime, Virginia Tech was just down 29-26 after a Justin Bibbs three to end the half. However, in the second half, led by Tonye Jekiri inside and Angel Rodriguez outside, the Hurricanes went on a 16-4 run that opened the game up. After a heated Jim Larrañaga got T’d up and the Hokies scored six straight points to get back to within 10, the Canes once again broke it open, scoring 18 of the next 22 points.

Sheldon McClellan led all scorers with 21 points. Rodriguez finished with 11 (all in the second half), while Jekiri owned the middle, scoring 15, grabbing 15 rebounds (7 offensive). Miami has now won two in a row and three of four to get back to above .500 in conference. Next up they get rematches, facing both Louisville and Florida State, two teams that beat them three weeks ago.

Virginia Tech hit just 34.8% of their shots, going 7-21 from deep. Adam Smith led the way with 15. The Hokies fall to 3-15 in the ACC.

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