ACC Weekend Review: 01.07.19 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 7th, 2019

All the favorites held serve on the first weekend of conference play around the ACC. On Saturday, the league’s co-favorites each won handily at home, as Virginia took care of Florida State and Duke routed Clemson. Two other ranked ACC squads were also successful – North Carolina blitzed Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech bested Boston College. The weekend was incredibly devoid of close games, with no outcomes among the group decided by single digits. Here are the highlights from (the real) opening weekend around the ACC.

Kyle Guy was on fire Saturday as Virginia dominated Florida State. (John Markon)
  • Best Win: By dominating Florida State from start to finish, defending league champion Virginia served notice that the ACC regular season title race still runs through Charlottesville. A final score of 65-52 was not indicative of the complete beatdown that the Cavaliers administered on Saturday afternoon – the Seminoles scored the last 16 points of the game to make it look better than it actually was. Up until that point, Tony Bennett’s defense had held high-scoring Florida State to just 36 points over 38 minutes of play. Junior sharp-shooter Kyle Guy was red hot (5-of-6 from deep), leading the Cavaliers with 21 points, including 18 in the opening half.
  • Worst Loss: With no upsets occurring over the weekend, we’re going with Notre Dame’s home loss to Syracuse, 72-62. The Irish looked good early, leading by 10 points at one point, but Syracuse rallied behind sophomore transfer Elijah Hughes, who posted a career high 22 points on 6-of-13 three-point shooting. Mike Brey’s two freshman guards had a tough time in their first look at the Orange’s lengthy zone defense, as Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin combined for just four points on 1-for-10 shooting. With its thin roster, Notre Dame can’t afford to drop too many home games if the Irish hope to have a chance at postseason play.
This 360 dunk punctuated another outstanding performance by Zion Williamson in Duke’s win over Clemson. (AP Photo)
  • Most Outstanding Player:  Duke’s Zion Williamson is the choice, and not just because of that awesome 360-tomahawk dunk that we’ve already seen replayed countless times. As he’s done for most of the season, rather, Williamson looked like a man among boys in the Blue Devils’ 87-68 win over Clemson. In only 22 minutes of action, he posted a double-double (25 points; 10 rebounds) while converting 9-of-11 shots from the floor. Williamson was also a force on the defensive end, tallying two blocks and two steals.
  • Unsung Heroes:  A couple of senior transfers came off the bench to give their teams a spark on Saturday. Graduate transfer (Alabama) Braxton Key scored a season-high 20 points, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor and converted all four of his free throw attempts to help Virginia rout Florida State. Brandon Alston, who played two years at Lehigh before joining Georgia Tech last year, notched 14 points and was perfect from the foul line in the Yellow Jackets’ easy win over Wake Forest.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense:  Louisville used a balanced scoring attack to post 1.30 points per possession in its 90-73 win over Miami Sunday night at the KFC Yum! Center. Jordan Nwora led the way with 20 points, and was joined in double figures by four other Cardinals. Chris Mack’s squad was solid in every offensive area; shooting 47.8 percent overall; making 41.9 percent of its threes; collecting 15 offensive boards; and only coughing the ball up seven times.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense:  Don’t look now, but North Carolina may have fixed its defensive issues. By holding Pittsburgh to just 0.79 points per possession in their 85-60 victory, the Tar Heels have now held their last three opponents (all top-100 KenPom teams) to under 0.80 PPP. The Panthers were forced into 15 turnovers and were held to a frosty 30.6 percent shooting day from the floor, including a miserable 2-of-19 performance from behind the arc.

Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch

  • Tuesday 1/8 – North Carolina at N.C. State (9:00 ET ESPN)
  • Saturday 1/12 – Virginia at Clemson (Noon ET Raycom-ACCN)
  • Saturday 1/12 – Louisville at North Carolina (Noon ET ESPN)
  • Saturday 1/12 – Duke at Florida State (2:00 ET ESPN)

Brad Jenkins (349 Posts)


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