ACC Weekend Review: 01.04.16 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 4th, 2016

The ACC tipped off the New Year’s first weekend of conference play without many high profile match-ups. The league currently has eight teams rated in KenPom’s top-40, but only one game this weekend matched two of them together. In that game, Virginia cruised past Notre Dame in Charlottesville, leading by double digits the entire second half. Three of Saturday’s contests featured second half comebacks – North Carolina trailed by three at the half before passing Georgia Tech late; Miami needed a huge second half to overcome Syracuse; and in the most exciting game of the day, Virginia Tech rallied from a big second half deficit to defeat North Carolina State in overtime. Also on Saturday, Clemson knocked off Florida State, and Duke beat hapless Boston College. In the only Sunday ACC action, Louisville held off Wake Forest at the KFC Yum! Center. Note that so far this season, home court matters in the ACC – visitors have only won once (Duke at Boston College) in the first nine league games. Here are some of the other highlights from over the weekend in the ACC:

Jordan Roper was red-hot - making 7 threes in Clemson's win over Florida State. (Dawson Powers/USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Roper was on fire Saturday – making 7 threes in Clemson’s win over Florida State. (Dawson Powers/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Best Win: Even though Virginia beat a higher rated team in Notre Dame (KenPom #31), we will go with Clemson and it’s win over a good Florida State (#40) squad. Brad Brownell’s team was desperate for a win after dropping three straight, and losing all six of its previous meetings with teams rated in KenPom’s top-220. Surprisingly, the Tigers did it with offense, scoring 1.25 points per possession against a Seminoles’ defense that had previously not allowed better than 1.07. Senior guard Jordan Roper led the way with 23 points and made a sizzling 7-of-10 from deep. Five other Tigers scored at least nine points, and Clemson controlled the boards by a +11 margin. Brownell hopes this performance can give his team confidence, because the Tigers will be underdogs in its next five games – at Syracuse on Tuesday, followed by four straight games against top-25 ACC teams.

  • Worst Loss: This dubious honor goes to North Carolina State for blowing a 14-point second half lead on the way to losing to Virginia Tech in overtime. This game points out the huge problem Mark Gottfried has regarding a lack of depth on this Wolfpack squad. Until Terry Henderson comes back from injury, hopefully in 2-3 weeks, Gottfried basically has seven players available. After the Hokies caught up and forced overtime, the Pack had nothing left in the tank. NC State only made 1-of-6 from the field in the extra session, and four different players combined to miss seven of their 12 overtime free throws. And it’s clear that the Wolfpack players are conserving energy by not over-exerting themselves on the defensive end. In 45 minutes of action on Saturday, NC State only forced a mere four turnovers.
Jalen Hudson dunks for two of his 23 points in Virginia Tech's comeback win. (

Jalen Hudson dunks for two of his 23 points in Virginia Tech’s comeback win. (

  • Most Outstanding Players: In a weekend full of good performances we will go with two players that were equally responsible for the comeback of the day. In Virginia Tech’s 73-68 overtime win over NC State, Seth Allen and Jalen Hudson each tallied 23 points and provided big plays down the stretch. Called “the most talented guy on our roster” by his coach – Buzz Williams, Hudson scored 19 of his points after half time. Known as an erratic shooter throughout his career, Allen was on target against the Wolfpack, making 3-of-5 from three point range. His biggest shot came when he nailed a 3-pointer to tie the score at 61 with 17 seconds left, which ultimately made the overtime possible.
  • Unsung Heroes: For this honor, we choose two backup big men who each came through down the stretch to help their teams win. Clemson’s Sidy Djitte came up big in the Tigers’ victory over Florida State with a career-high 14 points and nine rebounds. The junior center was particularly strong in the last eight minutes – scoring 11 points, grabbing seven boards, and making two steals to help Clemson close out the Seminoles. Djitte has suddenly become a good free throw shooter as well. He has now made 15-of-18 from the stripe in his last two games, after entering those contests as a below 50 percent foul shooter for his career. In Virginia Tech’s win, Allen and Hudson got the Hokies to overtime, but it was Kerry Blackshear Jr. that sealed the deal. The freshman big man scored six of his nine points in overtime, and grabbed four big rebounds after regulation. He also made 1-of-2 from three-point range in the game, after only connecting on 1-of-10 from distance prior to his first ACC game.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: It comes as no surprise that Virginia had the best offensive performance of the weekend, scoring 1.33 points per possession in its home win over Notre Dame. The Cavaliers rank first nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, while the Fighting Irish are a woeful 187th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Virginia converted 24-38 two-point shots and was led by its two senior stars – Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill (combined 14-of-19 on twos). Notre Dame has struggled to force turnovers this season, and it did so again – Virginia only had seven miscues (12.1%) in 58 possessions.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: In arguably the ugliest game of the weekend, Miami managed to win despite only scoring 64 points in a game with 69 possessions. The Hurricanes did so by holding Syracuse to a mere 0.74 points per possession. The Orange had a rough time holding on to the basketball, accumulating 19 turnovers for the game. When Syracuse did manage to get a shot off, they were way off the mark — making only 32.4 percent of its two-point attempts, 31.8 percent of its 3-pointers, and 57.1 percent from the foul line. For Miami, it showed that it is possible to win a major conference game by double digits, while only shooting 3-of-25 from beyond the arc.
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *