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ACC Roundup - The Pack Smacks Auburn, Yellow Jackets Show Some Life

Both wins were impressive.

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HoopHall Miami Invitational
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 01: Markell Johnson #11 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack dribbles with the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the HoopHall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena on December 1, 2018 in Miami, Florida.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In Wednesday’s ACC action, Virginia beat South Carolina 69-52, FSU survived North Florida 95-81, Virginia Tech popped NC A&T, 82-60, Miami got by Houston Baptist 80-73, Georgia Tech surprised Arkansas 69-65 and NC State beats Auburn 78-71.

Let us be among the first to welcome NC State back to the Top 25, where they’ll be next Monday, barring a shocking upset by South Carolina Upstate Saturday. We’ll go out on a limb and say that’s not happening.

With the win over the Tigers, State moves to 10-1 and they have some credibility now.

So far, Kevin Keatts seems like a perfect coach for State. He doesn’t give a fig for that “NC State stuff” that has wrecked seasons and coaching careers. His guys show up and play hard without exception. It’s very impressive.

His hallmark is passionate defense and true to form, State forced 25 turnovers and limited Auburn to 5-25 from three point range.

Auburn’s pressure got to State too but the Pack shot 52.8% and overcame 22 turnovers.

It’s a huge win for the Wolfpack. Remember, Keatts is only in his second season and just barely at that. Yet he’s changed the culture and made State a team to be feared. You’d be a fool to take this team lightly as long as he’s coaching.

State has a pretty good chance of winning every game until they host UNC on January 8th. And if that happens, that’s going to become a happening. Raleigh will go nuts if State wins.

Virginia beat South Carolina as expected, with Ty Jerome and Travis Guy combining for 43 points. South Carolina was held to 36.4% and 16.7% from deep.

Here’s the big deal in this game: remember when Kihei Clark, who was emerging as a superb point guard despite being (maybe) 5-9? only to be derailed by surgery for a hairline fracture?

He’s back - just nine days later.

We haven’t seen him much but our impression is that he could be kind of special. You’ll want to keep an eye on him.

Kudos to Georgia Tech for pulling off a big upset at Arkansas. We didn’t see that coming at all. Georgia Tech has struggled all season and offense has been scarce.

James Banks had a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards and Jose Alvarado led the way with 20 points.

The Yellow Jackets forced Arkansas to jack up threes which they mostly missed but had little trouble scoring inside themselves.

After the loss to Gardner-Webb Monday, this must have been a huge relief. The win speaks well of the players commitment to each other.

The other games were and were designed to be easy wins and don't really matter very much.

We will say this: you could have a contest in the state of Virginia for the most impressive freshman and split down the middle between Virginia’s Kiehi Clark and Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Alexander-Walker has the look of a one-and-done type of player. He had 20 against NC A&T and is averaging 18.3 ppg.

North Florida’s Matt Driscoll was hugely impressed with FSU’s Mfiondu Kabengele and told him this after the game: “A beast, and he is from the old school. He ain’t from the new school. And praise God he ain’t listening to anybody and praise God he doesn’t get caught up in all that minutiae on Twitter and all that. I told him after the game, `If you stay this way, you are going to make as much as you ever want to make. If you stay and do what you do.”

Kid must be feeling pretty good after that. He had 24 points and seven rebounds.

Phil Cofer, working his way back from injury, did not play.

Even during difficult times, Jim Larranaga has never lost four straight at Miami - until now.

Fortunately it’s not five straight as Miami dunked Houston Baptist 80-73.

Miami obviously has a lot of issues this year but they did fight in this one. Anthony Lawrence had 17 and Chris Lykes had 14. A useless game normally but this one game Miami time to work some stuff out.

Thursday’s other ACC games look dull: New Orleans takes on Pitt while Jacksonville treks out to South Bend for a whack at the Irish.

Texas Tech vs. Duke 7:00 ESPN2
New Orleans @ Pitt 7:00 ACCNE
Jacksonville @ Notre Dame 7:00 ACCNE
Wednesday’s Results
  • Virginia 69 South Carolina 52
  • NC State 78 Auburn 71
  • Florida State 95 North Florida 81
  • Virginia 82 NC A&T 60
  • Miami 80 Houston 73
  • Georgia Tech 69 Arkansas 65

ACC Standings

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