ACC Tournament Takeaways: Wednesday Evening

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 10th, 2016

The evening session of Wednesday’s second round at the ACC Tournament featured four schools better known for their success on the gridiron than the hardwood — as a group, these four schools have claimed the last nine ACC football titles. Another thing they have in common is that they all showed up in the nation’s capital this week knowing that winning the tournament was the only way any would make the Big Dance. In the first game of the night, Clemson collapsed down the stretch in allowing Georgia Tech to rally and win, 88-85, in overtime. In the nightcap, Virginia Tech exploded for a 96-85 victory over Florida State in the only game of the day that didn’t come down to the last possession. Here are some quick takeaways for each of the teams that competed in the District on Wednesday night.

Marcus Georges-Hunt celebrates with forward Charles Mitchell after forcing overtime against the Clemson Tigers. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Marcus Georges-Hunt celebrates with forward Charles Mitchell after forcing overtime against the Clemson Tigers. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Georgia Tech (19-13)The Yellow Jackets appeared to be dead in the water in the second half before clawing their way back from an 18-point deficit and giving Brian Gregory the biggest comeback win of his coaching career. They were led by senior Marcus Georges-Hunt, who scored 28 points and made 15-of-16 free throws after the intermission. Georgia Tech now moves on to face #2 Virginia in Thursday’s quarterfinals, and the Yellow Jackets should feel confident heading into that matchup. After all, Gregory’s club has now won six of its last seven contests and it already owns a four-point home victory over the Cavaliers this season.

Clemson (17-14)The Tigers were cruising along in total control of its game against Georgia Tech, leading 67-49 with fewer than nine minutes to play. But while some credit goes to the Yellow Jackets for staying vigilant, Clemson was its own worst enemy in letting a commanding lead melt away. It was around that point in the game when Brad Brownell‘s club inexplicably began to foul Georgia Tech, over and over again — giving up 22 free throws in the game’s final eight minutes. It was a stunning end to Clemson’s season, a team once in consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid before dropping five of its final eight regular season games.

Virginia Tech (19-13)The Hokies are arguably the hottest team in the ACC right now, having won six straight games. Buzz Williams‘ group continues to shoot well, knocking down 53.7 percent of its shots from the field along with 30-of-37 from the line. Frequent trips to the charity stripe have become this team’s calling card — the Hokies lead the nation in free throw attempt percentage (49.5%). Next up for Virginia Tech will be a meeting with Miami, a team that is without a doubt still smarting from the beating it took from the Hokies last Saturday in Blacksburg.

Florida State (19-13): Leonard Hamilton‘s club experienced its worst defensive game of the season, allowing the Hokies to score a robust 1.32 points per possession. Even though Florida State won the battles of turnover margin (+5) and offensive rebounding (+7), the Seminoles were unable to capitalize on all the extra opportunities by shooting 41.2 percent from the floor and missing 14 free throws. This team seemed on its way to the NCAA Tournament just over a month ago, but a five-game losing streak in February put Hamilton’s team in its current position — hoping for an NIT bid on Selection Sunday.

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