ACC Basketball

The Morning After…

ETHAN HYMAN — News Observer

With Miami’s Angel Rodriguez playing just three minutes because of a wrist injury, the North Carolina Tar Heels were able to fluster the Hurricanes all day long. Starting late in the first half and until about the two-minute mark with the game in hand, the Tar Heels held Miami to just nine buckets in 30 attempts, turning a tight game into a 73-64 win.

While Kennedy Meeks struggled with Miami’s height (4 points), Brice Johnson lead four double-digit scorers with 22 points (11-for-15 from the floor). Carolina managed to hit five threes, including a pair that gave them the lead in the second for good. Miami’s Sheldon McClellan scored 11, but pretty much disappeared in the second half thanks to foul trouble.

This was only the third win for the Tar Heels in the last month, as they improve to 20-9 on the season. At 10-6, they remained in fifth place in the ACC. Miami falls to 18-11 and 8-8 in the conference. Since the ACC will most likely just get six teams into the NCAA Tournament, the Hurricanes are not helping their cause by sitting in ninth place now.

Maybe the Louisville Cardinals are not a smart team. I mean, don’t they know they are supposed to struggle in Tallahassee? Shouldn’t they know that they are supposed to wither and die without Chris Jones? Yet, they can’t seem to figure it out, as they went on the road and destroyed Florida State, 81-59.

The game was never really much of a challenge, as the Cardinals stormed out of the gates with a 10-point lead and then began the second half with a 28-12 run to seal up the 22-point victory. The Seminoles struggled with the press all day long, giving up the ball 22 times, as the Cards’ Terry Rozier produced six of his team’s 10 steals.

While Rozier did struggle on the offensive end again (3-for-14 from the field), he did dish out nine assists, while Wayne Blackshear scored 22 and Montrezl Harrell delivered 16. On the flip side, after playing the greatest five minutes of offensive basketball that I’ve seen, Xavier Rathan-Mayes was held in check, scoring just 12, missing all five of his three attempts. Maybe the NBA can wait one more year.

While Florida State falls to .500 on the season (15-15) and 7-10 in conference play, Louisville hangs onto that all-important fourth spot in the ACC after improving to 23-6, 11-5.

Tired of playing tight ones against the Orange, the Blue Devils got defensive, holding Syracuse to 30% shooting, 3-for-20 from three and cruised to a 73-54 victory. With Duke going small with Justise Winslow playing the four, the freshman attacked the rim again and again, scoring 23 on 17 shots, while as a team Duke hit 6-11 from three in the second half as the Orange played “anyone but Okafor” defense. While Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson had a good night, scoring 16, Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 10-for-36 from the floor, 3-17 from three, while Kaleb Joseph and B.J. Johnson failed to score a point.

So the Wolfpack are supposed to be a tournament team? Could have fooled me. Facing the worst team the ACC has produced in a long, long time, NC State got blown out. I mean, this was never a ball game. Boston College opened up a nine-point lead early and led 43-26 at the half, shooting over 65% from the floor. In the second, the last place team in the conference extended that lead to 23 points on two occasions. the Wolfpack finally showed some heart and got the deficit down to nine, but by then there were three minutes to go and not enough time to finish the rally, as Boston College won, 79-63.

While Olivier Hanlan lead the way as expected (24 points, eight boards, three assists), this is the first time in a very long time someone other than Hanlan or Aaron Brown (13 points) did anything on offense. Patrick Heckmann scored 14, just his second double figure game this month. Dimitri Batten scored 11, only his second double-digit scoring game since December 15. All and all, five Eagles scored in double figures.

Kyle Washington actually led NC State in scoring with 14, as the Wolfpack’s three big scorers (Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Anthony Barber) were just 11-for-39 from the floor, including 6-for-22 from three.

Oddly enough, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi says this loss drops NC State one seed back in the tournament. I’m like, how are they in the tournament? Yes, the Wolfpack have played a tough schedule, yes they have impressive wins over Duke at home and Louisville and North Carolina on the road. Yet, this is a team that went over two months without back-t0-back wins. Plus, they should just be punished for always suffering through a UNC hangover.

For a hot Hokie minute, it looked like Virginia Tech was ready to challenge the ACC’s best team, doing it the Cavaliers way, lockdown defense, holding Virginia to one basket in the game’s first six and a half minutes, opening a 11-4 lead. Yet, led by seven straight points by Anthony Gill, the Cavs went on a 20-8 run to take a lead finally. Yet, it wasn’t until a 11-0 run midway through the second before Virginia finally pulled away to earn a 69-57 win.

The Cavaliers clinched at least a tie for the ACC regular season championship, thanks to another balanced effort, as four players scored in double figures, led by Malcolm Brogdon’s 19. London Perrantes returned to action to score 11 and dish out six assists, made even more impressive by the fact that he re-broke his nose during the game.

You know what’s scary about this Virginia team? They only have one scholarship senior and while Darion Atkins is solid inside, he’s at best the third, maybe fourth best player on this team (once Justin Anderson returns).

In what was arguable the most entertaining game of the day, the Clemson Tigers stormed out of the gate to a stunning 30-7 lead, thanks to Georgia Tech missing their first 14 shots. The lead was still at 19 at intermission. Yet, with seven minutes to go, led by Marcus Georges-Hunt, the Yellow Jackets rallied, going on a 22-7 run to end the game (Georges-Hunt score half those points). Clemson senior Rod Hall had a chance to win it with the game tied at 60, but he fumbled away any chance to win it.

In overtime though, Georgia Tech looked like a team that had used up all its energy just to force the extra period. The Tigers would score six straight and hold on to win, 70-63. Marcus Georges-Hunt led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Jaron Blossomgame, Rod Hall and Damcarcus Harrison combined to score 49.

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