ACC Weekend Review: 01.28.19 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins on January 28th, 2019

Entering the weekend, five schools set atop the ACC standings with just one loss each. That number of teams is now down to four, as Syracuse lost to Virginia Tech, 78-56, on Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, conference co-leaders Virginia (82-55 at Notre Dame), Duke (66-53 versus Georgia Tech) and Louisville (66-51 against Pittsburgh) all finished with comfortable wins, although the Blue Devils needed to rally from an eight-point deficit early in the second half. Two other games produced the most exciting finishes of the weekend. Braxton Beverly’s last-second three-pointer capped a furious rally by NC State, as the Wolfpack scored the game’s last eight points to beat Clemson in Raleigh, 69-67. Similarly, Ky Bowman made a clutch three to complete a Boston College comeback victory at Wake Forest. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

N.C. State’s Braxton Beverly celebrates his last-second game winner over Clemson. (USA TODAY Sports)
  • Best Win: Just five days after seeing its reputation plummet following a 21-point beatdown at North Carolina, Virginia Tech bounced back in a big way by trouncing Syracuse. The Hokies used quick ball movement and laser-sharp shooting to shred Jim Boeheim’s famous zone defense. Buzz Williams’ team sank 14 threes and finished with 23 assists on their 25 made field goals. Surprisingly, Syracuse was unable to capitalize on its huge height advantage over the Hokies – the Orange only converted 40.7 percent of their two-point tries.
  • Worst Loss: Gut-wrenching is the only way to describe the utter meltdown suffered by Clemson at PNC Arena on Saturday. It’s been a struggle so far in conference play for the 1-5 Tigers, but they seemed well on their way to picking up a possible season-changing win when leading the Wolfpack by six with 20 seconds to play. Then everything that could go wrong did, with most of it self-inflicted. Senior Marcquise Reed (84% FT for the season) missed four straight free throws, and Clemson tried the ‘fouling while up three’ strategy way too early – allowing NC State’s Beverly to cut the lead to one with nine seconds remaining. That left the Wolfpack with ample time to foul Reed and then get the ball up the floor for Beverly’s clean look, which (of course) he drained. Fortunately for Brad Brownell, the schedule lightens up considerably now, but time is quickly running out for the Tigers’ NCAA hopes.
Justin Robinson set several records in Virginia Tech’s rout of Syracuse. (Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports)
  • Most Outstanding Player: It was a record setting day in several areas for Virginia Tech’s Justin Robinson against Syracuse on Saturday. Robinson scored a career-best 35 points and set a school record by sinking nine three-pointers. He also became the Hokies’ career assist leader after dropping eight dimes against the Orange. Most of Robinson’s damage was done before halftime – he posted 24 points and was a sizzling 7-of-8 from deep in the first stanza.
  • Unsung Heroes:  Bowman wasn’t the only hero for Boston College in its win in Winston-Salem. Junior center Nik Popovic had his highest scoring ACC game ever, posting 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while also grabbing 11 rebounds. Virginia’s big three – De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome – were all outstanding in the Cavaliers’ rout of Notre Dame, but so was freshman guard Kihei Clark. Clark came off the bench and scored a season-high 12 points and was 2-of-4 from behind the three-point line.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: This isn’t your older brother’s Virginia offense. In posting 1.32 points per possession against Notre Dame, the Cavaliers cracked the 80-point barrier for the third time in seven ACC games. Usually when a team posts that high of an offensive efficiency mark, they have a tremendous shooting day. Virginia’s shooting numbers were solid – 55.1 percent on two-pointers, and 44.4 percent from distance – but not outstanding. The real catalyst to Tony Bennett’s great offense in South Bend was ball-handling – the Cavaliers only gave the ball away twice in 62 possessions.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Louisville’s defense continues to shine as the Cardinals held Pittsburgh to 0.75 points per possession (PPP) in the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals have now held four of their past five opponents under 1.00 PPP. On Saturday, the Panthers were held to 35.2 percent shooting and forced into 17 giveaways. Another key for Chris Mack’s squad was keeping Pitt off the foul line. In their overtime win over Louisville a few weeks ago, the Panthers took 33 free throws — in the rematch, Louisville held them to just 13 trips to the stripe.

Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch

  • Monday 1/28 – Duke at Notre Dame (7:00 ET ESPN)
  • Tuesday 1/29 – Virginia at N.C. State (7:00 ET ESPN2) 
  • Saturday 2/2  – Virginia Tech at N.C. State (Noon ET Raycom/ACCN)
  • Saturday 2/2 – North Carolina at Louisville (2:00 ET ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (368 Posts)

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