ACC Weekend Review: 02.18.19 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins on February 18th, 2019

It appears that the ACC is on a regular rotation this season that provides us with a great set of games every other weekend. Still, there were some interesting things happening on Saturday around the league; Louisville almost blew another late lead before holding on to edge Clemson, 56-55; and Virginia had an unexpectedly tough time with Notre Dame, winning 60-54 in Charlottesville. Elsewhere in the conference, North Carolina routed Wake Forest, 95-57, in Winston-Salem, and first-place Duke handled NC State in Durham by a score of 94-78. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

Jordan Nwora’s block saved the day for Louisville against Clemson on Saturday as the Cardinals survived another late meltdown. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  • Best Win: Coming off back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Florida State and Duke — games in which Louisville led both games by double-figures late — Chris Mack’s club almost did it again. This time, the Cardinals led Clemson by eight points with 30 seconds to go, before falling apart again in front of a stunned crowd at the KFC Yum! Center. At the end, Louisville practically handed the game to the Tigers when Marcquise Reed stole Jordan Nwora’s inbounds pass in the lane with three seconds to go — had Nwora not redeemed himself by blocking Reed’s short jumper to preserve the one-point victory, the Cardinals would be in full meltdown mode. Normally, we wouldn’t bestow “Best Win” status to a ranked team that barely survived against a squad with a sub-.500 conference record, but in this case, Louisville gets that distinction because it possibly saved its season.
  • Worst Loss: We also have an unusual choice in this weekly category. Nobody expected lowly Wake Forest to give North Carolina much of a game on Saturday, but the enormous margin of defeat — 38 points represents the largest in series history — may be the final nail in the coffin for Danny Manning’s tenure in Winston-Salem. After barely squeaking into the 2017 NCAA Tournament First Four, Manning was given a six-year contract extension — reportedly with a huge buyout attached. Since then, the Demon Deacons have posted a 20-35 record, including a pathetic ACC mark of 6-24. If Manning gets fired after the conclusion of this season, we recommend that the school have someone other than athletic director Ron Wellman choose the next head basketball coach. He’s certainly whiffed on his last two selections (Jeff Bzdelik and Manning) and as a result, Wake Forest is now one of the worst power conference programs in college basketball.
Kerry Blackshear Jr was the driving force behind Virginia Tech’s win at Pittsburgh on Saturday. (AP Photo)
  • Most Outstanding Player: There’s no question that Virginia Tech has been treading water lately, trying to stay afloat without the services of Justin Robinson. In it’s current form, Buzz Williams’ club needs his other veterans to step up when the Hokies hit the road in the ACC. Kerry Blackshear, Jr did just that in Virginia Tech’s weekend victory at Pittsburgh. as the junior forward used highly efficient shooting to post a season-high 29 points. Blackshear went 8-of-9 from the floor, made 10 of his 11 free throw tries and also pulled down nine rebounds.
  • Unsung Heroes: With Louisville star Jordan Nwora struggling — 11 points, 0-for-5 three-point shooting and six turnovers — Darius Perry’s offense off the bench was a big key to the Cardinals’ win over Clemson. Perry tied his ACC scoring high with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting in 16 minutes. Likewise, Florida State’s freshman Devin Vassell matched his best scoring effort in conference action by posting a team-high 11 points in the Seminoles’ 69-47 win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: North Carolina used red-hot shooting to post 1.28 points per possession (PPP) in its one-sided rout of Wake Forest. The Tar Heels made 22-of-36 (61.1%) from inside the arc and nailed 16-of-25 (64.0%) from three-point range. Cam Johnson led the way with a season-high 27 points, while hitting a career-best seven threes. With this performance, North Carolina is now the league leader in offensive efficiency, posting 1.14 PPP in ACC play.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: Now meet the ACC’s worst offense, Georgia Tech. Florida State held the Yellow Jackets to just 0.64 PPP and 27.1 percent shooting. In addition, it was one-and-done for Josh Pastner’s squad — the Seminoles claimed a robust 40-6 rebounding edge after Georgia Tech’s frequent misses.

Upcoming Week – Five Games to Watch

  • Monday 2/18 – Virginia at Virginia Tech (7:00 ET ESPN)
  • Wednesday 2/20 – North Carolina at Duke (9:00 ET ESPN/Raycom) 
  • Saturday 2/23 – Virginia at Louisville (Noon ET Raycom/ACCN)
  • Saturday 2/23 – Florida State at North Carolina (3:45 ET CBS)
  • Saturday 2/23 – Duke at Syracuse (6:00 ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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