ACC Basketball

The Morning After…

Photo by: The Associated Press

Saturday may have lacked a ton of excitement, wild finishes or anything that resembles an upset, but it was telling. The top dogs rocked, while only Pittsburgh kept their tournament dreams alive.

Coming off an emotional win over North Carolina and without Jahlil Okafor, the scent of upset was in the air, especially from a Clemson crew that gave Duke trouble last year. Problem is, no one told the Blue Devils. After letting the Tigers hang around 10 minutes in, the Devils blew out the Tigers, 78-56. First, Duke did their damage by spreading it out and attacking the usually solid Clemson interior defense. In the second, they rallied on the three ball, as the Tigers never got closer than 10. Quinn Cook led all scorers with 27, while Justise Winslow chipped in 20. Jaron Blossomgame was the only Clemson player to hit double figures with 10 points. The 78 points the Tigers gave up were the most points any team had scored on them all season long.

For a while, the Miami Hurricanes looked like a team desperate to earn a NCAA Tournament bid. Behind some hot shooting from Omar Sherman, the Canes jumped out to a 19-6 lead early on the road at Louisville. The Cardinals looked awful for the entire first half, playing selfish (zero assists in the game’s first 18 minutes), as Terry Rozier and Chris Jones continue to drive into traffic and put up bad shots. Yet, in the second, the Cardinals came out punching in the second half, overcoming a 10-point deficit with a 12-0 run. Montrezl Harrell and Chris Jones led the charge. Jones scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, while Harrell finished with 20 and sealing the deal with three free throws in the end. Miami had two chances to win it at the end, but fumbled away the first opportunity and then cold-shooting Angel Rodriguez missed his 11th shot of the game at the buzzer, sealing the Canes fate, a 55-53 defeat.

The North Carolina Tar Heels answered the hangover question quickly, opening the game on a 7-0 run, maintaining a double-digit lead through most of the first half. In the second, the Tar Heels got defensive, forcing turnovers on five of Georgia Tech’s first six possessions, blowing open the game. At one point, North Carolina led by 39, before calling off the dogs. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson were unstoppable, hitting 15-23 shots, combining for 34 points, while Marcus Paige finished with 10 assists. Marcus Georges-Hunt led all Yellow Jackets in scoring with 15, while Quinton Stephens came off the bench to nail a couple of threes, scoring 10 points.

It looked like the only thing the Pittsburgh Panthers would do was foul. 16 minutes into the game, the Syracuse Orange had opened up a four-point lead behind 14 free throw attempts, while the Panthers didn’t reach the line once. Yet, Pittsburgh’s Chris Jones came off the bench and had a personal 11-2 run (behind three 3s) and helped open up a 31-25 lead. In the second, the Panthers played a ton of zone against a weak shooting Syracuse team playing with a hurt Trevor Cooney and managed to open up an 11-point lead twice. Yet, the Orange rallied behind some B.J. Johnson buckets and Rakeem Christmas inside and were down one, with the ball. Yet, Syracuse’s center was called for a controversial illegal screen. On the replay it did look like Christmas did give a little extra with his leg. The Orange couldn’t recover, losing 63-61.

For 15 minutes, the last place Boston College Eagles hung with the Fighting Irish. Scoring on six straight possessions at one point, they found themselves down just 26-25. That’s when Bonzie Colson came off the bench heated and ready to produce, scoring eight of Notre Dame’s next 10 points. His hot streak became contagious, as Notre Dame would miss just six shots in the second half, shooting a stunning 75% from the floor, blowing out Boston College, 87-70. Six Irish scored in double figures, while Pat Connaughton chipped in with eight. Colson led Notre Dame with 16, missing just one of his nine shots in only 14 minutes of play. Olivier Hanlan, Aaron Brown and Dennis Clifford combined to score 48 of Boston College’s 60 points. Brown led all scorers with 22, but he needed 21 shots to get there, going only 1-6 from deep. The Eagles have now dropped eight straight.

The Hokies looked to play spoiler and decided to pack it in and not let NC State beat them in the paint. The Wolfpack responded by shooting 11 threes in the first half (hitting four), but while the Hokies struggled early to score (no buckets in the game’s first six minutes), they managed to hit 10 of their final 17 baskets to end the half down just seven. However, NC State came out  of the intermission with energy and opened the game up with a 11-2 run midway through the second, eventually earning a 69-53 victory. The win was the first time since early December that the Wolfpack have won back-to-back games. Ralston Turner scored 18, while Trevor Lacey delivered 14. For Virginia Tech, Justin Bibbs came off the bench to score 19, while Adam Smith finished with 15, as the Hokies has dropped three straight.

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