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ACC Roundup - Virginia’s Slide Continues

As NC State and Notre Dame show signs of life

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Florida State
Jan 15, 2020; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Devin Vassell (24) moves the ball up the court against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half at Donald L. Tucker Center.
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

It’s clear by this point that Virginia has a championship hangover.

The Cavaliers proved it again in Tallahassee. What we’ve come to think of as Virginia basketball is only partially there. The slow, deliberate pace is of course. The reliable three point shooting? The highly intelligent game management?

Not so much.

Virginia was close near the end against Florida State but a series of stupid and sometimes unforced mistakes killed their hopes.

That and UNC’s wretched season underscore something else too: Mike Krzyzewski maintains a ridiculously high standard year in and year out. This year’s team, without Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, is still a realistic contender for a title. UNC and Virginia are both struggling to replace several great starters. Duke does it every year and stays highly competitive.

Bennett is finding out now that not only is it incredibly difficult to maintain a high standard with turnover but also what it’s like to be relentlessly pursued. Everyone wants a piece of Virginia right now and everyone realizes that for the first time in a while, they’re vulnerable.

It must be killing Bennett to see mistakes make it even more vulnerable.

Virginia had 18 turnovers, including nine by point guard Kihei Clark.

Even so, with a few more moments of Bennett Ball, UVA could have won this game. And on the bright side, Tomas Woldetensae hit 3-4 for three pointers. He might be able to address a key weakness for the Cavs going forward.

Right now, though? Hangover.

Two players returned from injuries: BC’s Derryck Thornton and NC State’s CJ Bryce.

Thornton, who had an ankle injury, returned to the starting lineup but he had minimal offensive impact and no apparent impact on defense either, as Syracuse’s three-guard offense racked up 53 points and his opposite number, freshman Joe Girard, shot 4-6.

The Orange rolled to a 76-50 win. Rail thin forward Marek Dolezaj had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.

In State’s case, CJ Bryce really is the heart of that team and they were glad to have him back - and he made a difference. It’s not just that he’s the team’s leading scorer. He’s the guy who really keeps the team organized, focused and tough.

He had six points and five assists but you can’t quantify all he does. Check back in a couple of weeks to see how State is doing with him. He’s a steadying influence.

In the final game of the night, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame went back and forth but ultimately Prentiss Hubb was shooting too well.

He hit for 25 points, shot 8-16 and 3-8 and even hit the clinching free throw. As usual, John Mooney had a double-double. It’s not that he’s averaging a double-double either, by the way. He’s only missed a double-double twice - 10 points and eight rebounds against UNC in the season opener and seven points and 15 rebounds against Toledo. He may not get it, but his consistency should make him a candidate for ACC Player of the Year. The guy shows up every night and just works his ass off.

After Wednesday night’s games, we see a three-way tie at the top - Duke, Louisville and Florida State - Virginia Tech in second and a five-way tie for third. Georgia Tech is in tenth place and then there’s another three-way tie with Miami, Notre Dame and Pitt.

UNC and Wake Forest hold the bottom two spots. Some good news for the Tar Heels finally in this most dismal of seasons: Cole Anthony posted on Instragam that he’s nearly back. We don’t know if he can save this train wreck or not, but a steady ball handler would have helped against Clemson.

No games until Saturday but there are some really intriguing ones then: Duke hosts Louisville, Miami welcomes Florida State, UNC and Pitt have a rematch, Syracuse gets another crack at Virginia Tech, Clemson and NC State, both resurgent, square off in Raleigh and Virginia travels to Atlanta to try to break its losing streak. When they get there, they’ll find a tough-minded Georgia Tech team that can defend the paint very well. With minimal three point shooting, the ‘Hoos could be in trouble again.

Wednesday’s Results

  • Florida State 54 Virginia 50
  • Syracuse 76 Boston College 50
  • NC State 80 Miami 63
  • Notre Dame 78 Georgia Tech 74

No Thursday Games

ACC Standings