Saturday may have been the best day of the season in the ACC in many respects, and underscores the culture that makes the conference so competitive.
After a long, depressing slide, State bounced back to pop Wake in the mouth, 68-54, Maryland had a remarkable win over Georgia Tech, 76-74, and B.C. , 71-67. Only Clemson's win over Virginia was unremarkable, with the Tigers putting them away, 72-49.
B.C. had been on a slide of their own before beating the Heels: since beating hapless NJIT, the Eagles had gone 2-8. Not hugely impressive, to be sure, but a happier stretch than UNC has been through: other than State, the only ACC team they've managed to get up for has been Virginia Tech. And the pattern has become pretty predictable: if you can hang in the game with the Heels and build a lead in the second half, they don't seem to know what to do.
The most amazing thing to us is how Ol' Roy Williams continues to tip-toe away from the train wreck. Latest evidence:
"You've got to play. And if my back's to the wall and I'm getting my tail kicked, I'm going to fight you until I die. And I â¦ better stop."
"I feel like [losing confidence is a] bunch of BS. By golly, if you want to be a basketball player, be that. If you're going to be afraid, come over there and sit down. I've tried to be a psychologist for half a year. Now you've got to get it done."
The worst part of this is "I better stop." The reason he stopped is because he was about to explicitly rip his players rather than simply by insinuation.
But it's his team! He built it, he brought them in, and he's doing everything possible to make it clear that he's not to blame.
UNC fans will no doubt say, well what about Coach K in 1995? Well, a couple of points there. 1) he stepped aside on doctor's orders which were heavily reinforced by his wfe; 2) his team was ranked when he did, and 3) Duke lost a lot but rarely by more than a few points. And they had two first-round draft picks and a future national defensive player of the year point guard, among other assets. It wasn't as if the season was doomed to failure and it would have been different had he stayed healthy.
State managed to kick a losing streak of their own that just a day or two ago had Scott Woods muttering that he might need to get into therapy. Best therapy is a win, and State really worked for it against Wake.
It wasn't a pretty game - Wake had 23 turnovers and didn't hit a three pointer and of course just managed 54 points. And freshmen Ari Stewart and C.J. Harris were a combined 1-15.
For State. though, it was probably beautiful. And it keeps Woods out of therapy.
Meanwhile, up in College Park, here's something you don't see every day: two buzzer beating three point shots in the last two seconds of a game - by the same team.
Greivis Vasquez hit a long three point shot with 0.9 left but assistant Keith Booth had just called a time out, so it was waved off. But Cliff Tucker hit another buzzer beating three and Maryland got the rmiracle of the day.
The Derrick Favors we'd heard about finally arrived as the rookie finished with 21 points and 18 boards and the shot that briefly gave Tech a lead with five seconds left.
If UNC is dealing with the frustration of losing, a game like this can also help to convince a team that they're supposed to win. Great win for Maryland - and they survived what could have been a backbreaking week with four games.
Clemson had a good win, but for Virginia, like UNC, things are getting depressing. They've lost five straight, and the last four have been ugly.
For Clemson, another good game by Jerai Grant, who matched his career high with 18. While Virginia is sagging, Clemson appears to have righted the ship.
The only game Sunday is the Duke-Virginia Tech game which is discussed in detail on the main page.
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