What an amazing night in the ACC, with focus on two games: Clemson at UNC and Syracuse’s visit to Virginia.
Where to start?
Carolina. The Tar Heels absolutely collapsed as Clemson, unlike any other visit to UNC ever, failed to roll over. UNC had a 10 point lead with 2:08 left. Then Clemson started to press and the meltdown started. The vessel breached. Armageddon baby!
Brandon Robinson had a turnover with 1:36 left. Leaky Black leaked another with 1:22 left. Then he had another with :22 left.
Meanwhile, Hunter Tyson hit a three, Aamir Simms made a layup and split on free throws.
Robinson hit a pair of free throws with :12 left to put UNC up 70-67. Simms hit a three to put the game in OT.
In the last 2:36 of regulation, Simms blocked a shot, got a steal and scored nine points including the crucial shot to keep Clemson alive.
People at Clemson will never forget it. He may get his number retired (it’s Clemson - they don’t have a lot of tradition).
Afterwards, Roy Williams started his presser with two points: first, he said Clemson was entitled to celebrate since breaking the streak was a big deal for them and second he blamed himself for the loss. He forgot to remind his team to foul the three point shooter when Simms tied the game up.
He then went on to suggest that if he were his own AD he’d fire himself.
Not to make too fine a point here but if he really felt that way he could fire himself Sunday.
When Clemson won, as Williams suggested, they celebrated immodestly. Well, again as Williams suggested, why the hell not? This series started 93 years ago and Clemson has waited for this day in two conferences and two centuries. Of course they should celebrate.
UNC falls to 8-8 with the loss and at this point, even the NIT is starting to slip away.
We’ve mentioned this before but if you are on Twitter, check out #ICMeltdown. The guy just basically compiles bitter and hysterical reactions to whatever has happened to the Tar Heels. It’s always been pretty spectacular and weird but now? Now it’s kind of like a traffic accident when fog causes a massive pileup.
It’s going to take a long time for this sting to wear off.
For UNC, that is. For Clemson? Have you ever seen a happier team? Have you ever seen more joy in a locker room? It was moving.
By the way, Brad Brownell has now matched Roy Williams in this sense: he’s tied with Cliff Ellis for the most wins by a Clemson basketball coach just like Roy is tied with Dean Smith.
Next up for UNC: a quick rematch with Pitt, this time up there.
And Clemson? Duke visits on Tuesday, the day after the Tigers play for the college football championship. It could be the greatest stretch of winning in Tiger history: first win ever at UNC, a national championship and an upset over Duke to make Brownell Clemson’s all-time winningest coach. Quite a stretch if they can pull it off.
Meanwhile, in Charlottesville, Syracuse did exactly what we said they might do before we dismissed it as unlikely: simply launch threes over UVA’s defense and overwhelm them that way.
Damned if they didn't.
It was a tight, low-scoring game but the Orange just wouldn’t go away. And while Virginia wasn’t playing all that well, Jay Huff played his ass off. It’s the best we’ve seen him.
Still, despite finishing the game shooting 31.3 percent, Virginia was in position to to what it usually does: strangle you in winning time.
But something weird happened.
Virginia was in position to win when Kihei Clark took a three with :05 left in regulation. He missed and Braxton Clark got the rebound and didn’t get a shot off.
And then the wheels came off.
Syracuse scored 24 in the first half, 19 in the second....and 20 in the five minute overtime.
That probably kept Tony Bennett up all night. He might even have retched a few times.
It was an aerial assault. First Mamadi Diakite hit a basket for the ‘Hoos. Then the deluge started.
Elijah Hughes hit a three. Joseph Girard hit one. Then Buddy Boeheim hit one to put Syracuse up 52-45. Then after Huff hit a pair of free throws, Boeheim hit a shot, then Diakite again...then Boeheim hit a completely insane three that Steph Curry would be proud of. Then Girard hit another. Toss in free throws and Syracuse had its 20 points.
In five minutes.
Against that defense?
Astonishing. And maybe it gave Syracuse a new lease on the season.
The three-headed backcourt ended up scoring 51 of Syracuse’s 63 points. That won't work every night but it worked just fine Saturday and helped make up for Syracuse’s ugly loss to Virginia in the season opener.
Back to Huff: he did play very well, but if he had hit his free throws, there would have been no overtime.
Note to ACC: if you schedule conference games for season openers, why not, wherever possible, have those teams meet again in the season finale?
Just a thought.
In less compelling games (sorry but it’s true) NC State fell to Virginia Tech 72-58, Louisville took Notre Dame 67-64 and Georgia Tech whooped Boston College 71-52.
It may not be as compelling, but Virginia Tech handled the Wuffies with relative ease and if you haven’t noticed, the Hokies are now 12-4 and a good tournament bet.
Landers Nolley had 29 and Virginia Tech played excellent defense - Kevin Keatts compared it to Virginia’s Pack Line - and Virginia Tech just cruised.
Despite no real big men, despite a coaching transition, despite a terribly young and small team, Virginia Tech has emerged as a team to be admired. We couldn’t be more impressed.
With four of the ACC’s weaker teams on deck - Wake Forest Syracuse, UNC and BC - this team has a real shot at moving to 16-4. We could see the Hokies winning 25 games if things break just right. Imagine that. This team was picked 14th and it made perfect sense too. Mike Young is a superb coach.
Notre Dame was close to an upset but in winning time, Louisville had a little bit more, ripping off a 10-5 run at the end to secure the win.
Dwayne Sutton hit a pair of threes down the stretch and, as we’ve come to expect, Notre Dame’s John Mooney had a double-double with 15 points and 19 rebounds. If he keeps that up he has a future as a rebounder somewhere. As the Plumlee brothers might have said, that’s a man’s game.
And up in Beantown, the Yellow Jackets took care of business and dispatched BC without center Nik Popovic and point guard Derryck Thornton, both still out with injuries.
Basically the Eagles couldn’t match Tech’s inside game. Jim Christian said his team just couldn’t shoot: “We shot the ball poorly the whole night. On top of the basket, open 3s, right from the first five minutes of the game. … We got the ball in spots where we needed it, probably 80 percent of our possessions the ball was in a spot where you could make plays. We just couldn’t make a shot.”
As UNC, Wake Forest, NC State and Virginia will tell you Sunday morning, that’s a big problem.
Sunday’s ACC Action
PItt @ Miami || 6:00 || ACCN
- Duke 90 Wake Forest 59
- Louisville 67 Notre Dame 64
- Syracuse 63 Virginia 55
- Virginia Tech 72 NC State 58
- Clemson 79 UNC 76
- Georgia Tech 71 Boston College 52
- Dazed, damp and devastated: Inside Clemson’s historic first-ever victory at UNC
- Clemson losing streak ends as Tar Heels buckle under the weight of history
- UNC’s Roy Williams blames himself for not reminding team to foul in loss to Clemson
- Eye of the Tiger: Clemson snaps 59-game losing streak at UNC
- Roy Williams following loss to Clemson: ‘I’d say that right now this is my lowest’
- ‘Didn’t help them very much’: Williams shoulders blame in UNC’s 79-76 loss to Clemson
- ‘I’m exhausted right now’: After loss, UNC’s home streak against Clemson is dead
- After UNC’s seventh loss of season, the Smith Center paints a bleak postgame scene
- Recap: UNC falls to Clemson in overtime, ending 59-game home winning streak against Tigers
- UVa men’s basketball: No. 18 Cavaliers fall to Syracuse in overtime
- McFarling: Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford’s not big, but he sure plays that way
- Redshirt freshmen Nolley, Radford shine in Virginia Tech win over North Carolina State
- Syracuse gets best win of season, beats Virginia in OT
- Message to Buddy Boeheim as he struggled: ‘Keep shooting’
- Syracuse couldn’t make a 3-point shot at Virginia. And then it couldn’t miss
- Syracuse defense seems to play better against Virginia (Donna Ditota’s quick hits)
- Virginia falls to Syracuse in another ugly offensive performance
- Virginia’s ironclad defense springs a few leaks in OT loss to Syracuse
- Noie: More of the same for Notre Dame in loss to No. 13 Louisville
- Notre Dame comes up short against No. 13 Louisville
- U of L’s Nwora clutch on defense with game on the line against Notre Dame
- Georgia Tech overpowers Boston College
- NC State’s Keatts talks about if C.J. Bryce’s absence is affecting the team
- NC State’s Keatts on loss to Virginia Tech: ‘If you are going to blame anyone, blame me’
- NC State missing CJ Bryce for more than his stats
- NC State battles Virginia Tech in ACC basketball action
- Ed Hardin: Clemson ends its misery in Chapel Hill as Carolina gags in the end
- Clemson stuns UNC 79-76 in OT, earns 1st win in Chapel Hill