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ACC Roundup - Separation At The Top

But last place Miami nearly shocked UNC

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Duke v Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - FEBRUARY 09: Head coach Tony Bennett of the Virginia Cavaliers calls a play in the second half during a game against the Duke Blue Devils at John Paul Jones Arena on February 9, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

In Saturday’s ACC action, UNC and Florida State survived, with the Tar Heels barely nipping Miami 88-85 and FSU taking down Louisville 80-75, both games in overtime. Clemson beat Virginia Tech 59-51, Syracuse knocked off BC 67-56 and NC State survived Pitt 79-76.

Those were all solid games and tons of good plays all around.

The greatest play of all though was in Tallahassee and not even by a player: an FSU fan apparently had a heart attack right after the game ended. He was given first aid, including chest compressions, revived and as he was being loaded onto a stretcher gave the Tomahawk chop.

That’s just a hell of a way to end a game.

Not a bad way for FSU to end it either as the Seminoles had a solid comeback and tightened up from the line in overtime, hitting 11-12.

Rising star: Mfiondu Kabengele who played 36 minutes off the bench and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds.

Falling star: VJ King. Expected to become a starter under Rick Pitino, King’s minutes have fallen sharply under Chris Mack and he played just one minute against Florida State.

After a slow start, Florida State is now one of the hottest teams in the ACC and has now won five straight.

Miami has had a rough season. After the Notre Dame win one of their players said they were just tired of losing.

They played like that against UNC and nearly pulled off a massive upset in Chapel Hill, but couldn’t put UNC away in regulation after Luke Maye got loose for a three with about 10 seconds left and came up just short of pulling it off overtime.

The Tar Heels got a tremendous game out of Coby White, who finished with 33, shooting 11-16 and 7-10 from three point range.

Miami got a great game from pocket rocket Chris Lykes, who finished with 27.

Virginia Tech is still struggling with injuries, not least of all to Justin Robinson, out with a foot injury.

Clemson took full advantage of Virginia Tech’s woes, holding the Hokies to 51 points and 15-53 from the floor (28.3 percent).

Every starter except for Kerry Blackshear, who fouled out, played at least 37 minutes.

Since Robinson has been out, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has shot 11-33 and Ahmed Hill just 10-36.

It’s a grim situation for the Hokies but with Georgia Tech and Pitt up next week, they can perhaps stop the bleeding.

NC State’s had a rough stretch too, having lost three straight until the Pack popped Pitt Saturday.

People will talk about State’s epic flop against Virginia Tech for a long time but the Pack has scored well since then.

Pitt fought back and took the lead 61-59 with 11:09 left in the game. State just did what Kevin Keatts teams tend to do and fought its way back in.

For Jeff Capel and the Panthers, it was the seventh straight loss and pushes Pitt down to .500 (12-12).

The BC win must have been a particular pleasure for Jim Boeheim as son Buddy hit a career high 16, including 4-5 from three point range. If he can keep that up he’ll be a huge help for a team that needs some shooting and ahead of schedule too.

Syracuse held BC to 18-54 from the floor. The Eagles again played without the injured Wynston Tabbs and have only won once since he went out.

After Saturday there is some separation. Duke and UNC appear to be on a collision course, assuming neither loses. Virginia is clearly better than Louisville and Syracuse, who lurk just below them. Virginia Tech is sliding, FSU and Clemson are surging and State seems to have regained its balance.

Those are the potential NCAA teams. After that, things get squishy. Events and injuries caught up with Miami and Notre Dame. Wake Forest is really struggling while Pitt, BC and Georgia Tech are still in various stages of recovery.

Even so, Miami, in last place, nearly stunned UNC and everyone except Wake has been reasonably competitive.

Those teams can continue to try to improve but realistically, this season is just about over for all of them. Assuming Miami and Notre Dame recover quickly, we’ll have to see what happens with Tech, BC and Pitt. Certainly we expect Jeff Capel to do a great job at Pitt and there’s no question he’ll get players in because he already has. He just needs more and specifically more in the front court.

What about Wake Forest? It’s hard to imagine keeping Danny Manning after this season. We’re not big fans of firing guys early but compare him to Jim Christian. Christian inherited a program that was flat on its back. He’s continued to find underrated recruits, to develop them, and he’s had some huge wins, notably over #1 Duke last December.

Our biggest questions about Manning are these: why have so many players left early and why has he consistently failed to teach his teams how to win when a win is within reach?

He’s basically starting over this year and in his fifth year when he should be rising with his own recruits. Additionally he’s only had one winning season in Winston-Salem.

Christian has had struggles too but there’s no question that BC has improved under his watch. You could argue that it hasn’t improved enough but it has definitely gotten better.

It’s hard to say that about Wake Forest right now and for ACC fans that’s a drag. Wake adds a lot when it’s competent. We’d love to see them get it together.

Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame 6:00 ESPNU
Saturday's Results
  • Duke 81 Virginia 71
  • UNC 88 Miami 85
  • Clemson 59 Virginia Tech 51
  • Florida State 80 Louisville 75
  • Syracuse 67 Boston College 56
  • NC State 79 Pitt 76

ACC Standings

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