ACC Weekend Review: 01.30.17 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 30th, 2017

Four ranked ACC teams took to the road on Saturday afternoon, but only one emerged unscathed. Syracuse picked up its biggest win of the year by beating Florida State at the Carrier Dome; Georgia Tech edged Notre Dame at the buzzer in Atlanta; and Miami used a huge first half run to handle North Carolina with surprising ease. Wake Forest could not complete the home underdog sweep, blowing a late lead against Duke. On Sunday, Virginia nearly grabbed a huge non-conference road win for the league, but the Cavaliers fell to Villanova at the buzzer. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

Tyler Robeson helped Syracuse hold off Florida State to give the Orange an important ACC win.
(Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

  • Best Win: There were several good choices for this honor this weekend, but we’ll go with the school that probably needed a big win the most. In beating the Seminoles by a score of 82-72, Syracuse gained its first win over a ranked team this year and moved to 5-4 in league play. Given its lousy 8-5 non-conference record, the Orange probably need at least 10 ACC wins to make a reasonable case for this year’s NCAA Tournament field. Two of Jim Boeheim‘s graduate transfers led the way against Florida State, as Andrew White and John Gillon scored 24 and 21 points, respectively. Syracuse led at the half by 18 points before a furious Seminoles rally cut the lead to two late — Gillon then took over, making eight straight free throws to salt the game away.

  • Worst Loss: Losses this season by teams visiting McCamish Pavilion should no longer be considered embarrassing. After all, Georgia Tech has knocked off North Carolina and Florida State there in addition to this weekend’s 62-60 victory over Notre Dame. But among the four ranked ACC teams that were on the road Saturday, the Irish were the biggest favorite. After starting ACC play with five consecutive wins, Mike Brey‘s team has now dropped three of their last four contests. Even more troubling is that the normally elite Irish offense has sputtered, posting its two worst points per possession outputs of the year last week.

Luke Kennard launches the game-winning shot as Duke rallied to beat Wake Forest.
(Getty Images)

  • Most Outstanding Player: For most of Saturday’s game in Winston-Salem, it looked as if Duke’s persistent struggles on the road would continue. But sophomore Luke Kennard would not allow the Blue Devils to fall, scoring 30 of his game-high 34 points after intermission. Kennard made every shot from the field (10-for-10) during the period, and he was especially lethal down the stretch. Duke closed the game on a 14-2 run that featured 11 points from Kennard, including the game-winning three with seven seconds left to seal the 85-83 victory.
  • Unsung Heroes: Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner got a big lift from his bench on Saturday as Tadric Jackson tallied a career-high 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the floor. Jackson was also instrumental in the game-winning play by grabbing a defensive rebound and rifling an outlet pass to a streaking Josh Okogie for the deciding layup. Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson has had a somewhat disappointing senior campaign thus far, averaging only 20 minutes per game this season. On Saturday, however, Roberson was called upon to play 33 minutes off the bench and he responded with a nice all-around effort with 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Louisville is known for its defense — currently ranked second in KenPom’s defensive efficiency — but the Cardinals’ offense isn’t too shabby either. In Sunday’s blowout victory over N.C. State, Rick Pitino‘s squad posted 1.27 points per possession by shooting with impressive accuracy. The Cardinals made 50 percent of their twos, 50 percent of their threes, and connected on 86.7 percent of their foul shots. Donovan Mitchell continued his recent red-hot shooting streak, scoring 28 points and hitting six threes for the second straight outing.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: The ACC’s best offense had a bad day in Miami as North Carolina managed only 0.89 points per possession in its 77-62 defeat to the Hurricanes. The Tar Heels struggled to make anything, hitting only 35 percent from the field and going a chilly 7-of-24 from deep. A big key to Miami’s defensive effort was keeping North Carolina off the offensive glass. The Tar Heels lead the nation with a 42.4 percent offensive rebounding rate, but they were only able to grab 29 percent of their misses on Saturday. Star guard Joel Berry had a tough afternoon, managing only two points while missing all eight field goal attempts.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Monday 1/30 – Duke at Notre Dame (7:00 ET, ESPN)
  • Wednesday 2/1 – Florida State at Miami (8:00 ET, ACCN)
  • Saturday 2/4 – Virginia at Syracuse (Noon ET, ESPN2)
  • Saturday 2/4 – Notre Dame at North Carolina (6:00 ET, ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (327 Posts)

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