ACC Weekend Review: 02.11.19 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins on February 11th, 2019

This was perhaps the best potential weekend slate of games in ACC play this season and it didn’t disappoint in terms of excitement. In the national headliner, Duke completed a regular season sweep of Virginia by besting the Cavaliers, 81-71, in Charlottesville on Saturday evening. In a surprisingly close call, North Carolina remained tied with the Blue Devils atop the league standings with a comeback overtime win over Miami in the Smith Center. In other key contests, a pair of ranked ACC squads fell on the road — Clemson handled Virginia Tech, 59-51, in Littlejohn Coliseum; and Florida State rallied to take Louisville into overtime in Tallahassee, winning by a score of 80-75. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

RJ Barrett led the 3-point shooting barrage for Duke in its big win on the road over Virginia. (Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
  • Best Win: Duke once again showed it can solve Virginia’s pack-line defense, mostly because of an unanticipated Blue Devils’ explosion from behind the arc. Tony Bennett’s squad gave up 13 three-pointers — the most it had given up previous to this game was eight against Notre Dame — but great outside shooting wasn’t all that went well for Mike Krzyzewski’s club. Duke held a 17-0 edge in fast break points as well as a 14-9 advantage in second-chance points, despite the fact that Virginia grabbed six more offensive boards than the Blue Devils. RJ Barrett led the way with 26 points, giving him a total of 56 in two games versus the Cavaliers. This contest marked the beginning of an extremely tough stretch of games for Duke — its next five games are all against top 45 teams, three of which are on the road. Meanwhile, Virginia has a quick turnaround, traveling to face ACC co-leader North Carolina tonight.
  • Second Best Win: With no real bad losses over the weekend, we opt to highlight another big ACC win. Florida State won its fifth ACC game in a row with a gutty comeback win over Louisville, a game in which the Seminoles trailed by double-figures midway through the second half. Leonard Hamilton’s guys were outshot from the field by a wide margin (48.1 percent to 37.7 percent), so how did they pull it off? Two ways — by posting a huge edge in turnover margin (+15) and dominating the free throw game — Florida State went 27-of-36 at the stripe while Louisville was 13-of-16. The Seminoles have definitely righted the ship after their 1-4 start in conference play, and are now in contention for a top-four finish in the league, which comes with the cherished double-bye in the ACC Tournament.
Freshman Coby White was the hero in North Carolina’s comeback win over Miami. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)
  • Most Outstanding Player: North Carolina was in jeopardy of losing to ACC bottom-dweller Miami on Saturday in Chapel Hill, but then Coby White happened! The star freshman rallied the Tar Heels by nailing five three-pointers in the last 7:04 of regulation, enabling them to avoid an upset and triumph in overtime, 88-85. White finished with 33 points, six assists and two steals in an excellent all-around effort. He has been outstanding so far in ACC play, posting an impressive 115.1 offensive rating and handing out assists at a rate of 31.2 percent in league play.
  • Unsung Heroes:  Buddy Boeheim makes his second appearance in this weekly category, as the Syracuse head coach’s son helped the Orange to their 67-56 win over Boston College. Boeheim finished with a season-high 16 points, went 4-of-5 from deep, converted all four free throw attempts and collected three steals. With NC State starting center Wyatt Walker limited due to foul trouble against Pittsburgh, Kevin Keatts turned to DJ Funderburk and the JuCo transfer came through in a big way. Funderburk scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and drilled all six of his free throw tries in helping his team to a 79-76 road win, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: In its big win over Virginia, Duke scored at a clip of 1.29 points per possession — the highest mark allowed by the Cavaliers in over five years. The main driver of that performance was the Blue Devils’ surprising outside shooting acumen — they made a season best 61.9 percent from deep. In his postgame comments, Bennett acknowledged that perhaps the Cavaliers over-compensated defensively because of Duke’s success at getting to the rim in their January meeting. Much has been been made of Duke’s supposed Achilles heel (suspect three-point shooting), but it appears to be less of an issue outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium. In 13 home games, Duke is making an icy 27.5 percent from behind the arc, but in 10 games played in road or neutral environments, the Blue Devils are hitting a respectable 38.8 percent.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Boston College only managed to score 0.85 points per possession in its 67-56 loss at Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles struggled from all over the floor — they made just 35.5 percent of their two-point tries and 30.4 percent from distance — and coughed up the ball 18 times. The Orange’s zone defense was very active as usual, blocking six shots and snatching 12 steals.

Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch

  • Monday 2/11 – Virginia at North Carolina (7:00 ET ESPN)
  • Tuesday 2/12 – Duke at Louisville (9:00 ET ESPN) 
  • Saturday 2/16 – Clemson at Louisville (Noon ET ESPN/2/U)
  • Saturday 2/16 – N.C. State at Duke (6:00 ESPN)
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