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ACC Roundball Roundup 2/8

Virginia is running away with the conference and poised to claim the AP #1 spot

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

We’re about 23 of the way through the conference schedule with most teams having played 11 or 12 games. In a development no one saw coming back in November, the Virginia Cavaliers are a full 3.5 games clear of second place in the conference and look like they’re a lock to clinch the top seed in the tournament. The battle for 2 through 4 and the rest of the double byes is where things will get interesting. Right now, Clemson, Duke, and Miami have a slight edge for those spots but an army of teams with 6 ACC wins are right on their tails. However it settles out, the last 13 of the conference schedule promises to be exciting.

Let’s get to it!

Saturday, February 3rd

#2 Virginia 59 - SYRACUSE 44

Virginia’s defense continued to set records in Saturday’s big win at Syracuse. The Cavaliers held the Orange to just 44 points, their lowest mark in the Carrier Dome since the arena opened in 1980. Syracuse relies heavily on three players, all of whom were wildly inefficient against the Packline defense. G Tyus Battle scored 15 points on 17 shots, G Frank Howard scored 11 on 17 shots, and F Oshae Brissett scored 9 on 11 shots. Virginia’s offense also struggled a little bit against the Syracuse zone. The Cavaliers turned the ball over 11 times and G Devon Hall, UVA’s second leading scorer, was held scoreless but the bench came through in a big way. DeAndre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite combined to score 27 points off the pine.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

ST. JOHN’S 81 - #4 Duke 77

During their weekend off of ACC play, Duke traveled up to New York City to play a game in their home away from home, Madison Square Garden. Their opponent was the lowly St. John’s Red Storm, winless in the Big East and 10-13 on the season. Things did not go to plan for the Blue Devils. St. John’s outworked Duke for most of the game Saturday, leading by 11 points with 6 12 minutes remaining. With their backs against the wall the Devils came back to take a short-lived lead before the Storm took it back and held on until the final buzzer. Sloppy play and poor defense doomed Duke. The Blue Devils turned the ball over 18 times while only forcing 11 turnovers and letting St. John’s hit on 47.1% of their 3-point attempts. Duke’s leading scorer was Gary Trent Jr., who put in 22 points. Wendell Carter Jr., added 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Grayson Allen continued his inconsistent senior season, hitting just one field goal (a monster 3 in the last minute) on his way to a 7 point day.

#19 NORTH CAROLINA 96 - Pittsburgh 65

North Carolina bounced back from three straight losses by clobbering the cure for any struggling ACC team: the Pitt Panthers. To be fair, Pitt hung around with UNC for about 16 12 minutes. With 3:26 left in the first half, Pitt held a 32-31 lead. The Tar Heels then finished the half on a 14-3 run and kept their foot on the pedal coming out of the locker room. UNC dominated Pitt across the board, outrebounding the Panthers by 19, hitting 51.4% of their field goal attempts and assisting on 29 of 36 field goals. Luke Maye led six Tar Heels in double figures with 26 points in addition to 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Freshman PG Marcus Carr led Pitt with 22 points on 8/11 shooting.

#20 Clemson 75 - WAKE FOREST 67

With Wake Forest trying to mount a late comeback and a pair of starters in foul trouble, Clemson coach Brad Brownell decided to change things up. The Tigers switched into a little-used zone defense and the Demon Deacons had no answer. Wake went roughly five minutes between field goals late in the game and ultimately fell at home to Clemson. The two teams were evenly matched in the box score - both turning the ball over 8 times, Clemson narrowly winning the rebound battle, and both shooting at roughly the same clip - but down the home stretch it was the Tigers that made winning plays. Clemson improved to 19-4 and was led by their guard duo of Gabe DeVoe (24 points) and Marcquise Reed (22 points). Wake’s Bryant Crawford led the Deacons with 16 points and 6 assists.

NC STATE 76 - Notre Dame 58

On January 3rd, NC State went into South Bend to play a Notre Dame reeling from the loss of star player Bonzie Colson. The Pack lost by 30. On Saturday, NC State got their revenge, leading wire-to-wire and blasting Notre Dame. Showing no signs of rust after a week off, the Wolfpack scored the game’s first 9 points and never looked back. NCST dominated around the basket, outrebounding the Irish by 12 and scoring well in the paint. G Torin Dorn led the Pack with 21 points while Matt Farrell’s 16 paced the Irish.

Miami 84 - VIRGINIA TECH 75

Miami stole a road win at Virginia Tech in fairly comfortable fashion, leading for all of the final 37 minutes. The Hurricanes hit nearly 60% of their shots in the first half and led by 12 going into halftime. The Hokies made a bit of a run near the end but could never get closer than 3 points. Miami struggled a bit with turnovers, but made over 47% of their 3-point attempts and dominated the boards. G Anthony Lawrence contributed in a big way, putting in a career high 25 points on 9 of 10 shooting along with 13 rebounds and 3 blocks. G Justin Robinson led VT with 22 points.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State 80 - LOUISVILLE 76

In a tight back-and-forth game, it was the visiting Florida State Seminoles who got the big defensive play at the end of the game when they needed it most. Several times down the stretch, FSU extended their lead to 8 points but could never quite put the game away. Louisville had a chance to tie or win at the end but Terance Mann blocked a V.J. King jumper to end the Cardinals’ chances. Six Florida State players scored in double digits, led by 16 from F Phil Cofer. G Trent Forrest came off the bench to put in 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists in a nice all-around game. Louisville was led with 17 points from F Deng Adel. Big man Ray Spalding tallied 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

Sunday, February 4th

BOSTON COLLEGE 80 - Georgia Tech 72 (OT)

Recap here.

Monday, February 5th

Syracuse 78 - LOUISVILLE 73

On short rest and with just six scholarship players available, Syracuse scored a big win and sent Louisville to their third straight loss. Syracuse led most of the game but didn’t put the Cardinals away until the final few minutes. After trailing by as many as 12, Louisville closed to within 2 but then went over two minutes without a field goal as the Orange ramped up the defensive intensity. The Cardinals struggled to shoot over the zone, making on 5 3-pointers on 21 attempts beyond the arc. Louisville’s only effective scorer was F Ray Spalding, who was questionable after injuring his ankle against Florida State but came through with 18 points and 9 rebounds on Monday. Syracuse’s guard duo struggled mightily against UVA but bounced back in a big way. Tyus Battle scored 25 points, including 11/11 at the free throw line, and Frank Howard added 22 more points.

Tuesday, February 6th

NOTRE DAME 96 - Boston College 85

Notre Dame ended a seven game losing streak in an offensive showcase against Boston College. The Irish’s shooters were on fire, knocking down 16 3-pointers at a 55% clip. For their part, Boston College made 12 3s but at “only” a 40% rate. The two teams combined for just 13 turnovers with 35 assists. Notre Dame had 5 players score at least 13 points, led by a career-high 28 points from G TJ Gibbs (22 in the first half) and G Matt Farrell’s 19 points and 7 assists. The Irish needed every bit of those big days because Boston College’s Jerome Robinson had himself a day. Robinson set the record for most points by an opponent in Notre Dame’s arena by scoring 46 points on 15 of 23 shooting.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday, February 7th

#2 Virginia 59 - FLORIDA STATE 55

On a night when #1 and #3 went down, #2 Virginia needed a second half comeback to survive the carnage and put themselves in position to grab the top spot. At halftime, Florida State led by 10 points but the Wahoos were locked in during the second half. UVA made 5 of 10 3-point shots and only turned the ball over once while holding FSU without a field goal over the game’s 9 minutes. Only one Seminole player, reserve G M.J. Walker (10 points), reached double-digits scoring. Virginia’s Devon Hall led all scorers with 17 points. If Virginia can defeat Virginia Tech on Saturday, they should claim the top spot in the AP Poll for the first time since 1982.

#25 MIAMI 87 - Wake Forest 81

In a tightly contested game turnovers and free throws made the difference and led Miami to a win over Wake Forest. Both teams shot roughly 47% from the field and were an identical 9 of 22 from deep however, Miami went to the free throw line a whopping 37 times and forced 13 Wake Forest turnovers. Miami looked like they were going to pull away late but Wake’s Bryant Crawford made three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to make the finish interesting. Crawford ended up leading the Deacons with 23 points and 7 assists. Lonnie Walker IV was Miami’s top scorer with 19 points. Ja’Quan Newton, Miami’s starting PG last year, scored 16 points off the bench as he continues to show signs that he is emerging from his prolong shooting slump.

VIRGINIA TECH 85 - NC State 75

Normally a 3-point happy team, Virginia Tech made an effort to attack the basket against NC State and it paid off in a big way. The Hokies made 63.5% of their field goal attempts, the vast majority coming around the basket, and earned an important ACC win over a hot NC State team. VT broke the game open about halfway through the first half and never looked back, holding a 10+ point lead for most of the second half. G Justin Robinson led the Hokies with a career-high 32 points. NC State was led with 20 points from C Omer Yurtseven.

Looking Ahead...

It’s a big Thursday night in the ACC as the eyes of the college basketball nation will be watching the massive Georgia Tech-Louisville g...just kidding. Duke-UNC 2018, Part I is tonight! Always an interesting game, this year is no exception. Duke is one of the most talented teams in the country but really struggles on defense. North Carolina, meanwhile, has lost 3 of their last 4 games. Both teams really need this win, not just for conference standings, but to keep their season on track. So when GT-Louisville ends, flip on over to ESPN and catch the second half.

North Carolina has another big game this weekend when they make the short trip to play NC State and try to extract revenge for their loss a couple of weeks ago. Check that one out at 2:00 pm on Saturday. As mentioned earlier, all UVA needs to do to claim the top spot in the AP Poll is beat Virginia Tech Saturday at 6:15 pm on ESPN. Looking into next week, Tuesday night features a big game between Virginia and Miami (9:00 pm, ESPN) while Wednesday features a couple of potentially fun matchups with VT at Duke (7:00 pm, ESPN2) and Clemson at Florida State.

ACC Standings as of 2/7/2017

Team ACC Record Overall Record
Team ACC Record Overall Record
#2 Virginia 12-0 23-1
#16 Clemson 8-3 19-4
#9 Duke 7-3 19-4
#25 Miami 7-4 18-5
#21 North Carolina 6-5 17-7
Virginia Tech 6-5 17-7
Louisville 6-5 16-8
NC State 6-5 16-8
Florida State 6-6 17-7
Syracuse 5-6 16-8
Georgia Tech 4-6 11-12
Boston College 4-7 14-10
Notre Dame 4-7 14-10
Wake Forest 2-10 9-15
Pittsburgh 0-11 8-16