ACC Weekend Review: 02.27.17 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 27th, 2017

Saturday was a great day for visiting ACC teams with one notable exception – Miami celebrated its Senior Day by beating Duke in a 55-50 defensive struggle. Road teams on Saturday came out on top everywhere else. North Carolina wrapped up the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament by winning at Pittsburgh; Florida State crushed Clemson’s NCAA at-large bid hopes; and Virginia ended its four-game losing streak by besting N.C. State. Home teams had better results on Sunday as Louisville handled Syracuse and Notre Dame topped Georgia Tech. Here are the highlights of the weekend around the ACC.

Jim Larranaga has now led Miami to four straight ACC victories, including Saturday’s win over Duke.

  • Best Win: Prior to last week, Miami had been flying under the radar even with a cleary upward trajectory in the ACC. But after back-to-back upset wins over ranked opponents — at Virginia on Monday and at home against Duke on Saturday — the Hurricanes are finally getting some deserving national attention. Against the Blue Devils, Jim Larranaga’s club found a way to win despite shooting just 38.0 percent from the floor and giving up 21 offensive rebounds. Its defense saved the day, holding Duke to its lowest single-game point total in over eight years. The Hurricanes are now in a fifth-place tie with Duke in the ACC standings, and they still have a shot at a top-four finish and the ACC Tournament double-bye that comes along with it.

  • Worst Loss: Clemson has struggled to win close conference games all season long, and it was the same old story on Saturday as visiting Florida State edged the Tigers, 76-74. With the outcome of the game hanging in the balance, the Tigers came up empty on its last four trips to give the Seminoles an opportunity to steal the win. Clemson has now dropped six of its last seven contests, including the last five by a combined total of 12 points. The latest defeat leaves the Tigers with a 14-14 overall record (4-12 ACC) and effectively eliminates them from NCAA at-large consideration, likely also meaning the end of Brad Brownell’s tenure at Clemson.

Freshman Bruce Brown had much to celebrate on Saturday – leading Miami over Duke with 25 points.
(David Santiago-TNS)

  • Most Outstanding Player: In a game where buckets were very tough to come by, Bruce Brown’s 25 points were the difference in Miami’s big win over Duke. The freshman guard did more than just score, however — he also contributed four rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. This performance solidifies Brown’s big-game reputation and likely assures him a spot on this year’s All-ACC Freshman Team. Four weeks ago Brown also torched ACC heavyweight North Carolina with 30 points.
  • Unsung Heroes: Virginia’s Tony Bennett was looking for an offensive spark off his bench on Saturday and he found it in the form of rookie guard Kyle Guy. After only two minutes of action in the Cavaliers’ last outing, Guy made the most of his season-high 35 minutes by sinking five three-pointers and totaling a game-high 19 points against NC State. Rick Pitino made a similar personnel move by giving sophomore Ray Spalding his first start in six weeks in Louisville’s victory over Syracuse. Spalding responded by tying his career-high with 18 points and grabbing a game-high 11 boards.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: The ACC’s best offense played to form as North Carolina posted 1.31 points per possession in its win at Pittsburgh. As usual, the Tar Heels dominated the glass, snaring 24 offensive rebounds. That work in the paint — combined with a +4 edge in turnovers — enabled North Carolina to amass a huge advantage in scoring opportunities. Roy Williams’ club attempted 26 more field goals than the Panthers, which explains how it still won by 18 points despite having a slightly subpar shooting day (44.6 percent).
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Miami held a cold-shooting Duke squad to 0.81 points per possession, the lowest mark for the Blue Devils since a 2013 road game against the Hurricanes. Duke couldn’t find the mark from anywhere on the floor — shooting 35.6 percent on twos, 23.8 percent on threes, and 33.3 percent from the foul line. The result was a team that scored 32 points below its season average and Miami posting its eighth win in its last 10 outings.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Monday 2/27 – North Carolina at Virginia (7:00 ET, ESPN)
  • Tuesday 2/28 – Florida State at Duke (7:00 ET, ESPN2)
  • Saturday 3/4 – Notre Dame at Louisville (2:00 ET, CBS)
  • Saturday 3/4 – Duke at North Carolina (8:00 ET, ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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