ACC Weekend Review: 01.08.18 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 8th, 2018

After the second full weekend of league action, three ACC teams have surged to the top of the standings with identical 3-0 records. Virginia handled North CarolinaClemson edged Louisville in overtime; and Notre Dame staged a frantic rally to overtake Syracuse. While the two ACC preseason favorites — Duke and North Carolina — have struggled to 1-2 records, their misfortune has given other teams an opportunity to make early claims to the league crown. On Sunday night, Miami defended its home court by defeating intrastate rival Florida State to cap off a wild weekend. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

Duke suffered another road loss and court-rushing at NC State’s PNC Arena on Saturday night.
(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Best Win: Things were looking bleak for Notre Dame at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. The Irish were without their two injured senior stars — Bonzie Colson (broken foot) and Matt Ferrell (sprained ankle) — and they came out ice cold early. But Mike Brey‘s team hung around as it always seems to do, pulling out the tough road win thanks to Rex Pflueger‘s putback basket moments before the final horn. The Irish won with defense and hustle, holding the Orange to 39.1 percent field goal shooting and capturing seven steals. Notre Dame also held a huge edge on the boards, including a +13 advantage in offensive rebounds. Considering all of the injuries he is dealing with, Brey has already emerged as a front-runner for ACC Coach of the Year honors.

  • Worst Loss: For the second consecutive year, NC State upset Duke despite being a heavy underdog. The Wolfpack trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half before rallying to take the lead into halftime and never trailing again. The Blue Devils’ youth and inexperience once again showed up on the defensive end of the floor, allowing NC State to drop 54 points on them in the second half alone. After three ACC games, Duke is allowing 1.21 points per possession — by far the worst such mark in the league. Furthermore, the heralded Duke backcourt struggled on Saturday too. Grayson Allen was largely a non-factor, finishing with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, while Trevon Duval scored 18 points but committed eight of his team’s 16 turnovers.

Marcquise Reed led the way with 24 points and two clutch steals in Clemson’s overtime win over Louisville. (Bart Boatwright/Greenville News)

  • Most Outstanding Player: Clemson junior guard Marcquise Reed has been a stalwart all season long and he was again in the Tigers’ 74-69 overtime triumph over Louisville on Saturday. Reed finished with a game-high 24 points along with three assists and five steals. Two of those thefts occurred in the overtime session, converting them into four points that put the Tigers ahead for good. The better the opponent, the better Reed seems to play. In six games against Power-5 opponents this season, he is averaging a robust 21.3 points per outing.
  • Unsung Heroes: Mike Brey is known for having a “next man up” type of program, with veterans stepping up when given the opportunity to play. On Saturday, junior forward Elijah Burns got his chance in a career-high 21 minutes, and he responded by scoring seven points, grabbing two offensive boards, and making 5-of-6 shots from the foul line. In another breakout performance, Boston College freshman Steffon Mitchell tallied 17 points, five rebounds and four blocks in the Eagles’ six-point home win over Wake Forest. In his three prior ACC outings totaling 112 minutes of action, Mitchell had only scored eight points. Miami’s Chris Lykes may be small in stature (5’7″, 161 pounds), but his game was plenty big on Sunday night against the rival Seminoles. The freshman came off the bench to post a season-high 18 points in the Hurricanes’ 80-74 victory over Florida State.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: NC State exploited Duke’s suspect defense to the tune of 1.28 points per possession on Saturday. The Wolfpack beat the Blue Devils at their own game in the paint, grabbing 14 offensive boards and converting 54.7 percent of their two-point tries. NC State was equally lethal from the charity stripe, making 23 of its 25 free throw attempts. Sophomore center Omer Yurtseven and junior Torin Dorn led a balanced attack with 16 points apiece as six Wolfpack players reached double-figures.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: The nation’s top-ranked team in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency (what else is new?), Virginia turned in another smothering performance in holding North Carolina to 0.83 points per possession. The Tar Heels shot only 29.6 percent from the floor and were harassed into 19 turnovers. Junior Luke Maye had his worst offensive outing of the season, finishing with just six points on 2-of-10 shooting. North Carolina has now lost five straight games in Charlottesville, and for the second year in a row they failed to crack 50 points against Virginia’s pack-line defense.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Tuesday 1/9 – Syracuse at Virginia (8:00 ET ACCN)
  • Wednesday 1/10 – Louisville at Florida State (9:00 ET RSN)
  • Saturday 1/13 – Miami at Clemson (3:00 ET ESPNU)
  • Saturday 1/13North Carolina at Notre Dame (6:00 ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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