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ACC Roundup - State Rising, Clemson, FSU Have A Big Time In Tallahassee

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Duke
Feb 14, 2018; Durham, NC, USA;Duke Blue Devils guard Gary Trent Jr. (2) drives to the basket as Virginia Tech Hokies guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (4) defends during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won 74-52. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson came so close to knocking off Florida State on the road Wednesday night. They’re probably kicking themselves now.

The Tigers let an 18 point lead evaporate and the Seminoles won by two in overtime. Clemson’s Brad Brownell put a good spin on things, saying that Clemson won the first half while FSU won the second and “won the game by a play.”

Yeah, but Clemson had to cough up a big lead for that to happen. You can reasonably expect a fired up bunch of Tigers when Duke visits on Sunday with second place in the conference on the line.

Marcquise Reed led the way for Clemson with 23 points while Phil Cofer had 17 for FSU.

A good game for turnovers as Florida State had 17 and Clemson 21.

Incidentally, at the end of the game Clemson’s Shelton Mitchell got knocked cold and went to the hospital for an overnight stay. No word on whether or not he’s in the concussion protocol or not.

Wake Forest had reason to celebrate as the Deacs knocked off Georgia Tech 79-62 to win for just the third time since January 3rd.

Georgia Tech has had rotten luck: Josh Okogie missed nine games with an NCAA suspension and got seriously injured during that time; Ben Lammers has been playing with a bad ankle and now point guard Jose Alvarado is lost for the year.

His replacement in the lineup, Tadric Jackson, was also suspended with Okogie. Toss in Josh Pastner’s legal woes and it’s just been a miserable Year II in the Pastner era.

Coach K has a term called seeing the beach and by that he means that near the end of a long seasons, players and coaches can sometimes start to look forward to the season being over. You’d have to think that Pitt and Georgia Tech are ready for it to be over.

For 10-16 Wake Forest, things probably look better. The Deacs are 3-2 in their last five ACC games and those five have all been close and the last four games are all winnable. It won’t be a great season but it could end on a very positive note.

Oddly, Tech actually shot much better than Wake Forest overall but hit just 1-11 from three point range.

Speaking of Tech, the local media seems to be siding firmly with Pastner in his legal disputes with his former friend Ron Bell.

Let’s be clear about something. No matter what else happens while Kevin Keatts is the coach at NC State, the most important thing is that it’s no longer NC State.

Well at least not the NC State that we’ve known for all these years.

After Jim Valvano left, State hired, in order, Les Robinson, Herb Sendek, Sidney Lowe and Mark Gottfried.

All of them failed to some extent but most importantly, State lost its swagger. Robinson tried hard but had school-imposed limitations and wasn’t a great recruiter at this level and generally seemed disorganized. Sendek was reviled by the fans and though he won reasonably well, his team bored everyone to tears. Former Pack hero Lowe never really adapted to college ball and left unhappily. And Gottfried, after a nice start, saw his program disintegrate. It’s striking to hear Keatts say on the one hand that his talent is sub-par in the ACC but then take a lot of what Gottfried left on the other and getting them to perform at a very high level.

It happened again at Syracuse.

This was the sort of game State would have lost most times under any of the four previous coaches. There’s even a term for it: NC State stuff.

State fans grew to expect it and, in a bitter accommodation during the Sendek years, began calling State a football school (that didn't work out too well either; NC State stuff happened there too).

Keatts has done a tremendous job of reversing that sense of...well there’s only one way to explain it fully and we have to get in the Way Back Machine to do it. all the way back to Lil’ Abner and Joe Btfsplk.

Joe Btfsplk was followed by a dark cloud and always, always had the worst luck. He managed to lock the cloud in a safe once but it got out again and resumed its traditional location right overhead.

That’s NC State in a nutshell. The fans constantly look for Btfsplk’s cloud.

Well maybe not so much anymore. Keatts has cobbled together a team that believes and works hard. And so far the Pack has upset Arizona, Duke, UNC and Clemson, all ranked. State is 17-9 overall and 7-6 in the ACC after beating Syracuse on the road and the Pack has a realistic shot at the NCAA tournament. There are five games left and at least three are distinctly winnable and the other two, while not easy, are also possible.

You’d think 10 ACC wins would do the trick.

As for Syracuse, the closing stretch won’t be easy. The ‘Cuse is 17-9 overall and 6-7 in the ACC and has a road trip to Miami, UNC at home, a trip to Duke, then now quite dangerous BC, followed by the final game at home against Clemson.

That won’t be easy.

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