ACC Weekend Review: 01.23.17 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 23rd, 2017

We entered the weekend with a three-way tie at the top of the ACC standings and that is still the case as all three leaders were victorious on Saturday afternoon as North Carolina won a tight one at Boston College, Notre Dame handled Syracuse in South Bend, and Florida State held off visiting Louisville. In other action, Duke ended its two-game skid by coming back from a double-digit halftime deficit to defeat Miami on Saturday night. Then on Sunday evening, Clemson dropped its fifth straight–this time at home by a single point to Virginia Tech–putting the Tigers’ postseason hopes in major jeopardy. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

Freshman Jonathan Isaac has been on fire lately for Florida State. (Phil Sears/AP)

  • Best Win: Leonard Hamilton‘s team has taken on all comers to begin ACC play and has done more than hold its own – going 5-1, all against ranked opponents. Saturday in Tallahassee, Florida State finished the tough opening stretch in style by beating Louisville by a score of 73-68. It wasn’t the prettiest contest as there were a total of 45 fouls whistled and both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor. Freshman Jonathan Isaac has ramped up his play recently. After finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Isaac now has posted three consecutive double-doubles. After navigating that front-loaded conference slate, the Seminoles will probably only face two more ranked opponents when they meet Notre Dame and Duke in return games on the road in February. So even though Florida State now hits the road for three straight contests, they are primed to contend for the league regular season title.

  • Worst Loss: North Carolina State once again failed to continue an opponent’s winless streak in its 93-88 home loss to Wake Forest. For  the Deacons, the win snapped a 25-game losing skid in ACC road games. Just 10 days ago, Boston College ended a long drought in ACC play by beating the Wolfpack in Conte Forum. As usual, N.C. State’s defense was too porous–they are now last in the league in points allowed (84.7 per game). In a quick turnaround, the Wolfpack will try to end a hapless streak of their own in Durham tonight. The last time that N.C. State won in Cameron Indoor Stadium was in 1995 – ironically, Mike Krzyzewski missed that game following back surgery, just as he will this year.

V.J. Beachem had a career scoring day in Notre Dame’s win over Syracuse. (Matt Cashore – USA TODAY Sports)

  • Most Outstanding Player: V.J. Beachem scored a career-high 30 points and added seven boards to lead Notre Dame over Syracuse 84-66. Beachem was red-hot from deep, hitting 6-of-10 from behind the arc. His play was the main reason that the Irish were able to break open a tight game in the first half. Halfway through the opening period, Beachem reeled off 10 straight points — two dunks followed by a couple of threes–giving Notre Dame a working margin that it would never relinquish.
  • Unsung Heroes: If Saturday’s comeback win over Miami proves to be a dramatic turning point in Duke’s season, much of the credit will go to senior Matt Jones. Jones spearheaded the Blue Devils’ second half effort by turning two backcourt steals into five points in a two minute span. He finished with 13 points–all after intermission. Another senior role player was crucial in Florida State’s win over Louisville. Seven-footer Michael Ojo set his ACC career-high with 10 points, and also snagged six rebounds. Ojo also continued to show a drastically improved free throw touch, making 6-of-7 from the stripe. Coming into the year as a 40 percent career foul shooter, Ojo is making a solid 77.1 percent this season.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Notre Dame used another strong shooting day to post 1.24 points per possession in its win against Syracuse. The Irish made 54.5 percent of their twos, 42.3 percent of their threes, and made a sizzling 93.8 percent of their charity shots. Excellence from the foul line is nothing new for Notre Dame as they currently lead the nation in that department this year with a mark of 82.9 percent.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Virginia held Georgia Tech to only 0.83 points per possession despite allowing the Yellow Jackets to shoot over 45 percent from the floor. The Cavaliers got it done by forcing Georgia Tech to turn the ball over on 22 percent of its trips, and by giving up a measly two offensive rebounds on the Yellow Jackets’ 27 misses. This marks the second straight opponent to score under 0.85 points per possession against Virginia, after the Cavaliers allowed more than 0.99 points per trip in their four prior outings.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Tuesday 1/24 – Virginia at Notre Dame (8:00 ET ACCN)
  • Thursday 1/26 – Virginia Tech at North Carolina (8:00 ET ESPN)
  • Saturday 1/28 – North Carolina at Miami (1:00 ET CBS)
  • Saturday 1/28 – Duke at Wake Forest (3:00 ACCN)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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