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ACC Roundup - State Nearly Pulls Off An Upset Of Virginia

Close but no cigar.

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at N.C. State
Jan 29, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Kihei Clark (0) dribbles the ball as North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Markell Johnson (11) defends during the second half at PNC Arena.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s possible in football to have several undefeated seasons. Oklahoma had a 47-game winning streak under Bud Wilkinson and undefeated seasons in the modern game are not a surprise.

It’s much harder in basketball. UNLV was close in 1991 and Kentucky was very close in 2015, losing to a very tough Wisconsin team in the Final Four, although people tend to forget that Notre Dame was one play away from beating them in the regional finals. And of course Duke beat UNLV in the 1991 Final Four to deny them an undefeated season.

What’s less understood is that even the most successful coaches have nightmare matchups, guys who for various reasons just give them fits.

Mike Brey did this early in his ACC career, although Mike Krzyzewski has recently pulled ahead. For Rick Pitino, it was Tony Bennett. One of the great highlights of ACC season was seeing Pitino sit glumly, helpless on the Louisville bench as Virginia throttled his Cardinals.

And it looks like for Bennett, that guy, or one of those guys, may be NC State’s Kevin Keatts.

Keatts has now gone against Bennett three times and while he has lost all three, two were away from home and in each matchup, Bennett had the advantage in experience and talent.

When Keatts was at UNC-Wilmington, the Seahawks were unranked at Virginia, who was #5 and won 76-71.

Last season, the Pack played #3 UVA in Charlottesville and Virginia won 68-51 but it wasn't easy and State pushed the Cavaliers hard before falling.

And obviously a one-point loss in overtime is a very tight game.

Two big things happened: first, Kyle Guy hit a critical three with 2:03 left that would be Virginia’s last basket of the game and which put UVA up 64-61.

Being a Virginia game, no one else scored until there was just :10 left and State’s Braxton Beverly hit a shot to cut the lead to one (by the way, we’re pretty sure this is the first time that two ACC teams played with each having a guy named Braxton, Braxton Key in Virginia’s case).

State fouled De’Andre Hunter with :06 left and he hit both free throws...and then made a nearly fatal mistake, fouling Markell Johnson on a three point shot.

It was close. It was so, so close, but it bounced off to the right.

No matter - he still had three free throws and less than a second on the clock.

Unfortunately he missed the first, hit the second and then, in a last gasp of NC State Stuff, tried to miss the third and made it anyway.

Virginia blew a 14 point lead and a highly uncharacteristic 14 turnovers.

This is when the loss of the round robin really stinks. We’d love to see a rematch. Maybe we’ll get one in the ACC Tournament. Remember this is just his second year. We say again: what happens when Keatts gets some major talents in? NC State better do whatever it can to make sure he wants to stick around. Losing him - that would be some NC State stuff.

We thought that Georgia Tech might be able to give UNC trouble but were wrong there.

The Yellow Jackets identity this season is based on defense and Tech has been really good at defending the three.

Not this time: UNC scored 39 points on three point shots, just barely more than half of their total of 77. The Yellow Jackets scored just six on threes.

A 33-6 margin is pretty devastating. It wasn’t helped by Tech’s 16 turnovers.

We honestly believe Josh Pastner is doing about as well as could be expected this season - he’s no Danny Manning - but nothing will get better until he gets more talent in.

Also, Jose Alvarado left the game with an apparent ankle injury. That’ll hurt Tech a lot if he’s out. UNC’s Leaky Black also went out with an ankle injury.

Jeff Capel has completely changed the culture at Pitt but the same inexorable law applies there too: you have to have talent to win in the ACC, a lesson he got again at Clemson.

The final score was 82-69 but halftime was 51-23. Clemson shot 67.7% in the first half.

Clemson actually outshot Pitt from three point range, scoring 42 points from downtown.

Xavier Johnson had a brilliant game with 30 points on 10-14 from the floor.

Three games on Wednesday: Virginia Tech gets a weather break, flying down to Miami, Louisville comes to Winston-Salem and will likely embarrass Wake Forest, which has gotten used to it, and Syracuse goes to Boston where it will get a break from the cold: Boston will have high of 38 and a low of 17.

Back home, Syracuse is caught in the season’s worst cold snap and the temperature will be under zero tomorrow night. Boston seems balmy by comparison.

Virginia Tech @ Miami 7:00 ESPN2
Louisville @ Wake Forest 8:00 ACCNE
Syracuse @ Boston College 8:00 ACCNE
Tuesday's Results
  • Virginia 66 NC State 65
  • UNC 77 Georgia Tech 54
  • Clemson 82 Pitt 69

ACC Standings

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