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ACC Roundup Louisville Knocks Off State, Syracuse Whacks Miami

State fought hard but without Markell Johnson this was always going to be a tough game.

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NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Louisville
Jan 24, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts reacts during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC Yum! Center. 
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

We've said over the years that we pull for NC State after Duke. We like the program’s history and even though it’s wandered in the basketball desert for a long time, we kept hoping it would recover some of its glory.

As it turns out, Kevin Keatts was a great hire.

It’s impossible not to admire how hard his team plays. Even when the Pack loses it always gives a tremendous effort.

That wasn’t always true under Les Robinson, Herb Sendek, Sidney Lowe or Mark Gottfried but with Keatts, you are going to get a game from the Wolfpack.

And Louisville did.

In spite of 23 turnovers, in spite of giving up 24 points from the foul line (and only hitting five of their own), State kept coming before losing 84-77.

You have to wonder how the Pack would have done if injured point guard Markell Johnson had played. You’d think State would have done better with the ball certainly and he’s become a solid leader for Keatts.

Remember that he was recruited as an insurance policy for Dennis Smith. Smith is long gone, costing the Dallas Mavericks now instead of State, and Johnson has had a much better career at State when you think about it.

As long as we’re admiring, how about Louisville? We expected a much rougher season frankly. That program was broken and Chris Mack has done an amazing job of healing it, just as Keatts has done and, lest we forget, Jeff Capel has done something similar at Pitt.

There are winners and losers in every coaching transition and for Louisville, VJ King looks like he’s losing. Expected to be a starter, King got just five minutes in this game and hasn’t played a full half since December 24th.

The easiest call in the ACC this season is this: Miami is too shorthanded and as a result will usually lose.

Happened again Thursday as Syracuse topped the ‘Canes by 20, 73-53.

It was a six point game with 13:19 left but then the inevitable happened and Syracuse, facing a gassed team, pulled away.

Chris Lykes, such a tough player at 5-7, ran up against Syracuse’s zone and was stymied. He shot just 4-15 and missed all eight of his three point attempts. Only DJ Vasiljevic hit double figures and barely: he finished with 11.

As in Durham, the Orange shot very well, hitting 14-30 from three point range (46.7%). Miami tried to go man to press them but that just made the fatigue worse.

It’s going to be a long season in Boca Raton.

No games Friday but things pick back up Saturday with six games.

Thursday's Results
  • Louisville 84 NC State 77
  • Syracuse 73 Miami 53

ACC Standings

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