ACC Weekend Review: 01.29.18 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 29th, 2018

This weekend lived up to the hype around the ACC with a trio of exciting finishes on Saturday afternoon. In the marquee match-up of the day, Virginia picked up a rare win in Durham, edging Duke to remain unbeaten in league play (9-0). It took overtime to decide two intrastate rivalry contests, as NC State surprised North Carolina in the Smith Center and Florida State won a shootout against Miami. In other ACC action, Louisville blew out Wake Forest to remain alone in second place in the standings, a resurgent Virginia Tech squad picked up a nice road win at Notre Dame, and Clemson got back on track with a tight victory at Georgia Tech. Here are the highlights from this weekend’s action around the ACC.

Kyle Guy celebrates Virginia’s big win at Duke that leaves the Cavaliers in total control of the ACC regular season race. (Lance King/Getty Images)

  • Best Win: In the highly anticipated match-up of Virginia’s stifling defense and Duke’s potent offense, the Cavaliers held the Blue Devils well below their normal output (63 points) to pick up their first win in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995. Virginia dominated the first half before Duke rallied to seemingly take control of the game midway through the second, but Tony Bennett‘s team was simply tougher down the stretch, with sophomore guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome each making important threes in the closing minutes to secure the victory. Duke managed to only score 0.97 points per possession for the game, and committed 16 turnovers against the Virginia pressure. Even the best defense in the land couldn’t control Duke’s star freshman, Marvin Bagley III (30 points, 14 rebounds), but the Cavaliers made up for that by holding Duke’s three starting guards to a total of 19 points on 8-of-26 shooting. Virginia now has a two-game cushion over Louisville in the league standings and appears poised to capture its third regular season title in the last five years.

  • Worst Loss: Ever since Roy Williams returned to coach his alma mater way back in 2003, North Carolina has dominated rival NC State — winning 27 of their last 30 meetings, including an embarrassing 51-point massacre in Chapel Hill last season. But first year Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts has already turned the tables, leading his team to an overtime victory in the Smith Center, 95-91. As is often the case in such upsets, three-point shooting played a key role — the Tar Heels made only four deep shots while allowing the Wolfpack to sink 15 from behind the line. Joel Berry logged his worst offensive game of the ACC season, scoring just six points on a chilly 3-of-12 performance from the floor. The Tar Heels’ second consecutive loss drops them to 5-4 in league play with five road conference games still remaining.

Allerik Freeman had a record setting shooting performance in N.C. State’s upset win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. (Gerry Broome/AP)

  • Most Outstanding PlayerBefore Saturday’s game in Chapel Hill, graduate transfer Allerik Freeman had not lived up to his reputation as an effective long range shooter — making just 12-of-44 three-pointers in eight prior ACC games. But Freeman broke out in a big way in NC State’s upset win, scoring a career high 29 points and sinking all seven of his shots from behind the arc. That mark represents the most threes made without a miss in the history of ACC league play.
  • Unsung Heroes: Freeman wasn’t the only N.C. State guard that turned in a career-best performance on Saturday. Sophomore Markell Johnson scored a personal-best 20 points and also dished 11 dimes against the Tar Heels. Since returning from suspension, Johnson is averaging an impressive 9.2 assists per outing in his five league games. Syracuse’s Bourama Sidibe had a tremendous break-out game as well. The freshman center had only scored four points in 31 minutes of action in the Orange’s first seven ACC games this season, but on Saturday he exploded for 18 points and 16 rebounds in Syracuse’s win over Pittsburgh.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Usually, a team that scores 1.29 points per possession and makes 17 three-pointers in a single game can expect to come out on top. Unfortunately, Miami also allowed Florida State to post 1.41 points per possession in a 103-94 overtime victory for the Seminoles. Florida State shot a season-best 60.0 percent from the field and only committed seven turnovers, with six of those coming in the first eight minutes of the game. For Jim Larranaga, a proud defensive coach, the Seminoles’ performance represented the highest points per possession allowed by a Miami team during his tenure in Coral Gables.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Not only did we log the top two offensive performances of the weekend in the same game, Syracuse and Pittsburgh posted the two best defensive efforts in the Orange’s 60-55 win at the Peterson Events Center on Saturday. Syracuse prevailed despite only shooting 35.2 percent from the floor and scoring just 0.94 points per possession. That’s because the Panthers’ offense was even worse, finishing with 0.86 points per possession and a frosty 27.7 percent field goal shooting against the active Syracuse zone defense.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Tuesday 1/30 – North Carolina @ Clemson (7:00 ET ESPN2)
  • Wednesday 1/31 – Louisville at Virginia (7:00 ET ESPN2)
  • Saturday 2/3 – Miami at Virginia Tech  (2:00 ET ESPN2)
  • Saturday 2/3 – Florida State at Louisville (4:00 ET ACCN)
Brad Jenkins (307 Posts)


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