ACC Weekend Review: 02.16.15 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 16th, 2015

The big story of the weekend was that two middle-of-the-pack ACC teams got huge resume-building wins. Pittsburgh dominated North Carolina at the Petersen Events Center Saturday afternoon, and N.C. State picked up a surprising road win at Louisville later that same day. Conference leader Virginia had to hang on to edge Wake Forest by a single point in Charlottesville, and Duke rallied from a double-figure first half deficit to win at Syracuse. In other weekend action, Clemson easily handled visiting Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech lost yet another heart-breaker, this time at home to Florida State. There was only one game scheduled on Sunday, but Miami’s game at Boston College had to be postponed until today. Here are some of the other highlights from the ACC’s weekend action.

Michael Gbinjie had a career-high 27 points against his former team. (Dennis Nett/

Michael Gbinjie had a career-high 27 points against his former team.
(Dennis Nett/

  • Best Win: It’s hard to say for sure, but N.C. State’s win over Louisville in the KFC Yum! Center could be more important than its earlier home win over rival Duke. While its fans obviously wouldn’t trade the two wins, this victory filled a major hole in N.C. State’s postseason resume. The victory proved that the Wolfpack can win on the road against high level competition, and they did it with a solid all-around performance: outscoring Louisville in the paint (32-16), only committing eight turnovers and holding stars Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier to a combined 14 points and 3-of-15 shooting. Anthony Barber led the way for the Pack with 21 points, his third 20-plus scoring game in the team’s last four outings.
  • Worst Loss: It’s been an emotional seven days for North Carolina’s basketball program, starting with last weekend’s passing of legendary former head coach Dean Smith. With all the attention that came with that situation it’s certainly understandable that the Tar Heels were a little flat on Saturday. But some of the problems on display at Pittsburgh over the weekend are not one-game issues. North Carolina’s defensive points per possession mark in ACC play is now up to 1.06, which is surprising considering that the Tar Heels returned much of last year’s group that finished at a very good 1.01 PPP. Even more disturbing is that opponents have scored at an way-too-easy 1.15 PPP rate over the last five games.

  • Most Outstanding Player: The Duke-Syracuse game was billed as a battle of the two best centers in the conference with the Blue Devils’ Jahlil Okafor matching up with the Orange’s Rakeem Christmas. And while Okafor won that individual battle, former Blue Devil Michael Gbinije made things tough for his former teammates. The Syracuse junior scored a career best 27 points, grabbed six boards and dished out four assists to keep his team in the game. Gbinije, who left Duke after a quiet freshman year, nailed five three-pointers in the first half, the last of which gave the Orange an 11-point lead with a few minutes left. Duke then got its offense going and eventually overtook the Orange in the second half, but Gbinije’s play kept Syracuse within striking distance until the final minutes.
  • Unsung Heroes: This week we have two repeat honorees: Clemson’s Jordan Roper and Pittsburgh’s Sheldon Jeter. Roper enjoyed another red-hot shooting day, going 5-of-6 from three and tallying 21 points in the Tigers’ win over Virginia Tech. This represented Roper’s seventh consecutive start and the junior guard has come through for his team by averaging over 14 points per game and making over half of his three-point attempts since he entered the starting lineup. As for Jeter, he set a new career scoring mark for the second straight weekend, reaching 22 points against North Carolina. The sophomore made 10-of-14 shots from the field in his second consecutive game as a starter.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Pittsburgh’s offense had a great day at the expense of North Carolina, as the Panthers scored a robust 1.44 points per possession on Saturday. They did it by shooting 69 percent on two-pointers, 53 percent on threes and committing only five turnovers. It was a full team effort as six Pitt players scored in double figures and four of Jamie Dixon’s crew delivered at least five assists. It’s a good thing for Dixon that his offense was so effective over the weekend because the second most efficient ACC team of the weekend was the Tar Heels, logging 1.23 points per possession in the loss.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: It was the same old story for Georgia Tech, as the Yellow Jackets lost yet another close game in Atlanta. This time they blew a five-point lead with 3:31 left by going scoreless the rest of the way. For the game, Florida State held the struggling Tech offense to only 0.82 points per possession, as the Jackets shot a dismal 35.6 percent from the floor.


  • Bonus – Impressive Stat of the Weekend: If you are a fan of excellent passing and good ball-handling — and/or passive defense, then the Pittsburgh-North Carolina contest on Saturday was a true gift. Both squads dished out dimes at such a high rate that the game featured two of the best five assist percentage performances in ACC play all season. Additionally, this game produced the two highest assist-to-turnover ratio performances in conference play all year long.
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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