ACC Weekend Review: 02.25.19 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins on February 25th, 2019

Despite a strong slate of ACC match-ups in the queue on Saturday, the games were mostly devoid of drama. The main takeaway from the weekend is that there is a significant gap between the top three schools and everyone else. Virginia overcame a 10-point halftime deficit on the road to overwhelm a reeling Louisville squad, 64-52; the frontcourt of North Carolina was too much for Florida State in the Tar Heels’ 77-59 win in Chapel Hill; and Duke rallied to beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, 75-65. This leaves those three league heavyweights tied at the top of the ACC standings with 12-2 records, clear of the rest of the league by three games in the loss column. Virginia Tech took advantage of those results to move into sole possession of fourth place — the Hokies beat Notre Dame in South Bend by a score of 67-59. Here are the highlights from the weekend around the ACC.

Nassir Little gave North Carolina a strong effort off the bench as the Tar Heels dominated Florida State in the paint on Saturday. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
  • Best Win #1: Those who expected this to be a letdown game for North Carolina should have known better. Yes, the Tar Heels were coming off a huge win over Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but it’s not like Roy Williams‘ club isn’t used to dealing with this situation — playing the game after “The Game” — every season. Florida State kept it close for about 30 minutes, but North Carolina closed the contest on a 21-7 run to put away the Seminoles. The Tar Heels’ frontcourt was the difference, as seniors Cam Johnson and Luke Maye each posted double-doubles and freshman Nassir Little scored 18 off the bench. North Carolina dominated the glass (+15) and held the Seminoles to their second lowest scoring output of the year. Leonard Hamilton’s team saw its eight-game winning streak snapped and damaged its hopes for gaining the the coveted double-bye as the #4 seed in the ACC Tournament.
  • Best Win #2: With no upsets occurring this weekend we will highlight another big win because of the circumstances surrounding the game. There were several factors going against Duke when it took the floor at Syracuse on Saturday night — the Blue Devils were without the services of National Player of the Year favorite Zion Williamson; they had just been run out of their own gym by arch-rival North Carolina; and they were facing a motivated Syracuse team, who already had beaten Duke earlier this year, in front of an on-campus record 35,642 fans. Furthermore, the Orange controlled things early and led by five at that break. But RJ Barrett reminded us that Williamson isn’t the only star on Mike Krzyzewski’s squad — the other freshman superstar carved up the Syracuse zone to the tune of 30 points and seven assists to lead the comeback. Duke also got a huge boost from Alex O’Connell, who scored 17 second half points.
Clemson rode Marcquise Reed’s outstanding play to hold off visiting Boston College. (The Clemson Insider)
  • Most Outstanding Player: Clemson can’t afford any more bad losses on its resume if it hopes to make the Big Dance, and Marcquise Reed made sure that the Tigers didn’t on Saturday in a 76-66 home win over Boston College. The senior guard finished with a career-high 31 points, including five made three-pointers, while dishing out a game-high four dimes, grabbing eight defensive boards, and posting five steals.
  • Unsung Heroes: Tony Bennett got a big boost off the bench against Louisville, as Jay Huff matched his career-high for scoring in ACC games with 12 points. Huff went 6-of-8 from the floor, snagged seven rebounds and blocked two shots in Virginia’s comeback victory. With Zion Williamson unable to go at Syracuse, Mike Krzyzewski inserted sophomore Alex O’Connell into the starting lineup to combat the Orange’s zone defense. O’Connell made that decision pay off by notching a career-best 20 points (5-of-8 three-pointers) and grabbing five boards as the Blue Devils rallied to win.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: NC State became the latest ACC squad to take advantage of the league’s worst defense by scoring 1.24 points per possession against Wake Forest on Sunday night in Raleigh. In posting its most efficient offensive game of the conference season, the Wolfpack weren’t outstanding in any one area, but they were solid in all facets. They made 54.1 percent of their twos, 36.7 percent of their threes, and converted 70.0 percent of their free throw attempts. Additionally, NC State was good on the boards (35.0% offensive rebounding rate) and did an excellent job of taking care of the ball, committing only nine turnovers in a 76-possession contest.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: In one its most impressive defensive performances of the year, North Carolina held Florida State to just 30.5 percent shooting and 0.84 points per possession. The Tar Heels owned the paint on that end of the floor, holding the Seminoles to 28.6 percent shooting on two-pointers, while limiting the tall Florida State squad to just six offensive rebounds. It’ been quite a week for Roy Williams’ defense — North Carolina held Duke to just 0.82 PPP on Wednesday and now rank among the top 10 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings.

Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch

  • Tuesday 2/26 – Duke at Virginia Tech (7:00 ET ESPN)
  • Tuesday 2/26 – Syracuse at North Carolina (9:00 ET Raycom/ACCN)
  • Saturday 3/2 – N.C. State at Florida State (Noon ET ESPN/2)
  • Saturday 3/2 – North Carolina at Clemson (6:00 ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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