Louisville had won 10 in a row, held steady at fifth in the AP poll and sat atop the ACC standings. Leading the way was upperclassman Jordan Nwora, the preseason ACC player of the year.
Then things changed as an elongated league season hit the mid-February grind.
For only the second time this year the Cardinals lost consecutive games. Granted, Louisville was on the road. Still, both Georgia Tech and Clemson inhabited the ACC’s bottom half when they vanquished Chris Mack’s club.
“This week wasn’t a good week for us,” Mack said after his potent offensive squad lost at Clemson. The Cards scored 14 points in the first half.
The 6-7 Nwora was held to 2 points on 1-6 shooting at Atlanta, checked much of the time by a gritty smaller player, 6-foot Jose Alvarado. The junior then scored 5 points on 1-5 shooting at Clemson. Nwora didn’t start against Clemson, but played 29 minutes.
Until the loss to the Tigers Nwora had paced ACC scorers throughout the 2020 season. But his average dipped to 18.23 points, eclipsed by Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes, who jumped to a league-best 18.88 with a 25-point effort in a close loss at Florida State.
Regardless of the leader at the moment, it appears increasingly likely the ACC will be paced in 2020 by someone with a scoring average below 20 points per game.
That doesn’t happen all that often. In fact, it occurs about one season in six over conference history and not since 2017 when Pitt’s Michael Young checked in at 19.6.
Should Hughes, Nwora or someone else pace the league with an average below 20, it would be the fifth time in the 21st century, and the third in six years, the ACC leader was that punchless. So much for rules changes geared to improve scoring.
Oddly, some of the best players in ACC history led in scoring with fewer than 20 points per game, including five players of the year.
|A PAUCITY OF POINTS
Players Who Led ACC In Scoring With
Fewer Than 20 Points Per Game
(This Season Through Feb. 15)
|18.9||Elijah Hughes, SU||2020|
|19.6||Michael Young, UP||2017|
|19.5||Olivier Hanlon, BC||2015|
|19.7||Al Thornton, FSU||2007|
|19.5||Josh Howard, WF||2003*|
|17.9||Terrell McIntyre, C||1999|
|19.1||Danny Ferry, D||1988*|
|18.9||Len Bias, M||1985*|
|19.6||Michael Jordan, NC||1984*|
|18.5||Gene Banks, D||1981|
|18.2||Lee Shaffer, NC||1960*|
|17.0||John Richter, NCS||1959|
|* ACC player of the year.|