ACC Weekend Review: 02.02.15 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 2nd, 2015

Once again the ACC enjoyed a highly entertaining weekend full of buzzer-beaters and furious comebacks. Much like last year when Syracuse beat Duke in an ESPN Gameday event on the night before the Super Bowl, the ACC grabbed the national spotlight again with a pair of high-level Saturday games. They both lived up to their billing, as Louisville capped off a big comeback to beat North Carolina in overtime before Duke closed its game with a stunning offensive flurry to hand Virginia its first loss of the season. In a few other Saturday nail-biters, Notre Dame lost a surprising final-possession game at Pittsburgh; N.C. State’s Trevor Lacey nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to knock off Georgia Tech; and Wake Forest held off Virginia Tech for its second conference win. Also on Saturday, Clemson won its third in a row by beating Boston College handily in Littlejohn Coliseum. In the only Sunday ACC action, Miami missed a shot at the buzzer to fall to rival Florida State in a game where the Hurricanes blew a big first half lead. Here are some of the other highlights from over the weekend in the ACC.

Montrezl Harrell grabs one his game-high 15 rebounds in Louisville's big comeback win. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Montrezl Harrell grabs one of his game-high 15 rebounds in Louisville’s big comeback win.
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

  • Most Outstanding Player: In a weekend full of superb performances we will give the nod to Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, the driving force behind the Cards’ comeback from an 18-point second half deficit to North Carolina. Harrell finished the game with 22 points and 15 rebounds, including eight offensive boards after the half, but it was more than his stellar numbers that merit praise for the junior forward. He played 44 ferocious minutes and his energy on both ends of the floor was responsible for turning the game around. He was so utterly dominant inside that both of North Carolina’s power forwards — Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks — fouled out of the game trying to keep up with him. Behind Harrell’s man-sized effort, Louisville was able to overcomes its cold shooting and beat the Tar Heels at their own game, utilizing a 28-to-24 edge in points from the paint.

  • Best Win: It was billed as a match-up of Duke’s talented offense versus the outstanding pack-line defense of Virginia, and, for 30 minutes, it looked like Tony Bennett’s bunch was just too tough for the Blue Devils. But Duke kept things close enough to have a chance, and the Blue Devils took advantage of the opening down the stretch. Trailing by 11 points with 10:15 to play, Duke was given only a 1.9 percent chance of winning, according to Ken Pomeroy’s in-game win probability algorithm. But as the chart below shows, the Blue Devils proceeded to shred one of the best defenses in the country, scoring a ridiculous 35 points in their last 15 possessions. Even though Virginia continued to score fairly well with its possessions, the Cavaliers simply couldn’t hold off the suddenly-scorching Blue Devils. Duke made 8-of-9 two-point shots, nailed 6-of-8 threes, and did not turn the ball over even once during the late flurry.


  • Worst Loss: Last weekend N.C. State suffered a gut-wrenching overtime loss at home to Notre Dame, but this time it was the Wolfpack inflicting the pain by giving Georgia Tech a similarly devastating home defeat. The Yellow Jackets had appeared to take control of the game with a late 16-3 run, but they simply couldn’t put the game away. In overtime, the Jackets led by two points with a few ticks remaining and Quinton Stephens — an 83 percent shooter coming in to the game – on the line for two shots. Stephens missed both attempts, allowing Trevor Lacey to dribble upcourt into his heroics and leaving Georgia Tech to wonder how they lost yet another close ACC game.

  • Unsung Heroes: This week we will feature a trio of players who have recently returned to their teams’ starting lineups and were instrumental in helping their squads to victory over the weekend. Jordan Roper has now started the last three games for Clemson (all wins), and has given a much-needed boost to the woeful Clemson perimeter shooting attack. Roper made 6-of-8 threes on his way to a game-high 24 points in a win over Boston College. For N.C. State, Anthony Barber rejoined the starting unit after coming off the bench in his two previous games. The sophomore exploded for 23 points and dished out seven assists against Georgia Tech — he came in averaging only 5.3 points and 3.4 assists in ACC play this season. Finally, Wake Forest’s freshman Konstantinos Mitoglou made his first start since November 19, and he responded with 15 points and 3-of-7 shooting from three to help the Deacons hold off Virginia Tech.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Pittsburgh had the best offensive performance of the weekend, scoring 1.23 points per possession in its upset win over Notre Dame. The Panthers displayed great teamwork, assisting on 24 of their 27 made field goals in the victory. Point guard James Robinson, who made the game-winning basket in the waning seconds, led the way with 15 points and 10 assists with only one turnover. Also, Pittsburgh took advantage of the Irish’s relatively small lineup, as the Panthers’ starting frontcourt combined to make 22-of-33 field goals, led by emerging star Jamel Artis. The sophomore Artis is now averaging 19 points per game over his last five contests.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Don’t look now, but Brad Brownell has Clemson playing some excellent defense again this year. Boston College only managed 0.86 points per possession against the Tigers on Saturday, and Clemson now ranks second in defensive efficiency in ACC play. The Tigers, now 5-4 in the league standings, have won four of their last five games and have held their opponents below 0.90 points per possession in all four of those victories. The best path to a successful defense is to make your opponents miss shots, and the Tigers did just that on Saturday, holding Boston College to 39 percent shooting from the field.
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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