ACC Weekend Review: 02.20.17 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 20th, 2017

Offense ruled on Saturday with one notable exception. In the biggest game of the weekend, Virginia managed only 41 points as North Carolina dominated the Cavaliers in Chapel Hill. Earlier that day, two other games produced four of the top eight offensive performances in ACC play this season, as Duke edged Wake Forest, 99-94, and Louisville outlasted Virginia Tech, 94-90. In other weekend action, Florida State continued its road woes in falling by 14 points at Pittsburgh, and Georgia Tech grabbed another big home win by holding off Syracuse. Here are the highlights of the weekend around the ACC.

Justin Jackson scored 20 points in North Carolina’s impressive win over Virginia. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Best Win: No one is surprised that North Carolina defeated Virginia on Saturday night — after all, the Tar Heels have yet to lose in the Smith Center this season. What was shocking, though, is how easily they dispatched a team that really never gets blown out. The 24-point loss represents the only time that Virginia has been defeated by more than 12 points in the last four years of conference play. Justin Jackson shredded the vaunted Virginia defense for 18 of his 20 points in the first half, continuing a string of amazing consistency in ACC action where he has averaged 19.6 PPG with only one outing topping 22 points. The Tar Heels won with defense and rebounding this weekend, holding the Cavaliers to just 27.8 percent shooting and finishing with a +18 edge on the boards.

  • Worst Loss: Florida State began conference play with a 6-1 league start partially from having five of its first seven games in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have since then taken to the road with disappointing results — dropping four of their last five away games by double-figures. The latest disappointment came at Pittsburgh on Saturday as the Panthers never trailed in the second half on the way to an easy 80-66 victory. Maybe more concerning for Leonard Hamilton is that star Dwayne Bacon is really struggling right now. Bacon was held scoreless in Saturday’s game and is now shooting just 42.9 percent from the field in ACC games.

Sheldon Jeter had a career day in Pittsburgh’s upset of Florida State. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Most Outstanding Player: Pittsburgh’s Sheldon Jeter has gone from role player to leading man in the last two weeks and his team is benefiting from the sudden transformation. After Saturday’s upset of Florida State — in which the senior forward scored a career-high 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting — the Panthers have now notched three wins in their last four outings with Jeter posting an average of 17.2 PPG over that stretch. He was especially effective in breaking open a tight game early in the second half  — scoring 11 points and snagging four rebounds in the first six minutes after intermission.
  • Unsung Heroes: In a game full of offense, Louisville’s Rick Pitino received some extra firepower from seldom-used reserve guard Ryan McMahon. The redshirt freshman scored nine points on a trio of three-pointers, including two makes in back-to-back possessions to give the Cardinals a second half lead they would never relinquish. Miami’s Ebuka Izundu also took advantage of his second straight appearance in the Hurricanes’ starting lineup, scoring 12 points in the home win over Clemson.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: In nearly any other situation, Virginia Tech’s weekend output of 1.45 points per possession would be enough for an easy win. But Louisville posted 1.52 points per trip itself — the second best offensive performance by an ACC team in league play and easily Louisville’s best of the season. The Cardinals successfully attacked the Hokies in multiple ways — shooting 54.5 percent from behind the arc, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds and only turning the ball over three times.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: After holding Virginia to a meager 0.67 points per possession on Saturday, North Carolina has now logged the two best defensive performances of the ACC season (recall that the Heels held N.C. State to 0.66 points per trip last month). The ice-cold Cavaliers missed their first 17 three-point attempts and ended up converting only 15-of-54 shots from the floor. Equally important was the job North Carolina did on the defensive backboards, holding Virginia to only five offensive rebounds on those 39 misses. The Cavaliers have now lost three straight contests for the first time since 2011.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Wednesday 2/22 – Duke at Syracuse (7:00 ET, ESPN)
  • Wednesday 2/22 – Louisville at North Carolina (9:00 ET, ESPN)
  • Saturday 2/25 – Duke at Miami (4:00 ET, CBS)
  • Sunday 2/26 – Syracuse at Louisville (2:00 ET, CBS)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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