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Slow Starters - Low Scoring Games Involving ACC Teams

ACC teams involved in very low scoring affairs is a bit of a trend

Towson v Virginia
UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT - NOVEMBER 25: Jason Gibson #11 of the Towson Tigers drives downcourt against Reece Beekman #2 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half at Mohegan Sun Arena on November 25, 2020 in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Cavaliers defeat the Tigers 89-54.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Frankly, when these things occur they’re hard to miss.

But attention must be paid when Miami scores 14 points in the first half, falling behind by 20 against an estimable team like Purdue, only to rally to victory. All without star guard Chris Lykes, a first team All-ACC selection out with an injured ankle.

Or when Clemson holds Maryland to 15 points and 26.1 percent shooting in the first half, leading to a comfortable victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Later counterbalanced by Louisville’s 18 first-half points in a delayed Challenge drubbing at Wisconsin.

For all the recent thought given to goosing college scoring, all the tinkering across the years, anemic halves keep popping up in the ACC and elsewhere. A month into this sputtering season there have been 14 games involving ACC programs in which one team failed to reach 20, a point scored per minute, in a half.

All were in nonconference action, most endured by non-ACC teams.

Such parched point production occurs every year, although this seems a bit extreme. Of course the current season really can’t be compared with others in that there were no preseason exhibition games during which teams could work out early kinks. Nor is it easy to get into a good playing rhythm when games keep getting knocked off the schedule at short notice due to COVID.

Regardless of circumstances, it’s not surprising that three of this season’s early stiflings were inflicted by Virginia, the ACC’s perennial leader in scoring suppression. Included was the league’s low scoring total in a 2020-21 half, 13 points by St. Francis (Pa.) compared to 45 for the Cavaliers. Big man Jay Huff scored 13, matching the halftime production of the Red Flash.

Impressively, Clemson’s defense was comparably unyielding, holding three of its first four opponents, and four of seven through Dec. 21, in the teens during an opening half. The Tigers lead the ACC in field goal percentage defense.

The standard for recent first-half futility remains 10 points, turned in by Florida State in a 2011-12 loss in the US Virgin Islands. Against a Harvard team coached by former Blue Devil Tommy Amaker.

HALF-BAKED 2020-21 Games Involving ACC Teams With Paucity Of Points In A Half (Through Games Of Dec. 23, 2020, Low Scoring Team Listed First)
Pts School, Opponent (Result) Low Pt (Half)
13 St. Francis v. Virginia (W) 13-45 (1)
14 Miami (W) v. Purdue 14-32 (1)
14 William & Mary v. Virginia (W) 14-36 (1)
15 Maryland v. Clemson (W) 15-38 (1)
16 Evansville v. Louisville (W) 16-36 (1)
16 Notre Dame (W) v. Kentucky 16-37 (2)
17 Niagara v. Syracuse (W) 17-33 (2)
18 Louisville (L) v. Wisconsin 18-44 (1)
18 Gardner-Webb v. Pitt (W) 18-27 (1)
18 SC State v. Clemson (W) 18-36 (1)
19 Morehead St. v. Clemson (W) 19-32 (1)
19 Mississippi St v. Clemson (W) 19-26 (1)
19 UMass v. NC State (W) 19-43 (1)
19 Towson v. Virginia (W) 19-42 (1)