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ACC Roundup - Steve Forbes Gets First ACC Win, UNC, Virginia Prevail

Steve Forbes is doing a great job so far for Wake Forest

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at North Carolina
Jan 23, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Manny Bates (15) has his shot blocked by North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. 
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We were pretty close on our ACC picks for Saturday. We got Virginia, UNC, Florida State, Wake Forest right. We forgot to put down our call on Virginia Tech-Syracuse but we were going with the Hokies so call that a miss.

Poor Clemson.

We said we thought there was an excellent chance that Clemson would be blown out but didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was. The final score was 80-61 but it wasn’t anywhere near that close.

FSU shot out to a 24-9 lead and never looked back. The lead ballooned to 71-38 with 8:32 left.

The Tigers shot just 30.4 percent and were just 5-30 from behind the line.

When we saw Balsa Koprivica’s game we were really impressed. He looked mobile and highly promising.

He was pretty good against Clemson, hitting on 5-6 from the floor and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Clemson has now been blown out three straight after playing very well early. Brad Brownell admits that his team has lost some confidence. That’s not surprising. Clemson has had a brutal stretch after its Covid pause.

NC State wasn’t sure if it would have Manny Bates for the UNC game or not. He did play and had six rebounds, seven blocks and 10 points, but Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe combined for 33 points and 18 boards. UNC shot 54.4 percent for the game. At about the 6:54 mark, UNC started to pull away and State couldn’t keep up.

Like Clemson, State has had Covid issues which coach Kevin Keatts referred to afterwards, saying “Pauses hurt. Coaches, we love to have control, but we cannot control what happens with this virus.”

In Winston-Salem, Steve Forbes got his first ACC win, knocking off Pitt 70-69. Ismael Massoud, who’s been surging lately, had 31 for the Deacs and hit 8-10 from behind the line, which ties a school record.

Justin Champagnie had 17 points, eight rebounds and five steals for Pitt.

Wake won, but it was a struggle: Pitt was in front until Wake took the lead with 9:45 left.

Wake was up 76-73 when Massoud missed one of two three-point attempts with 0:16 left and then Xavier Johnson cut the lead to one.

To torment Wake fans, Daivien Williamson coughed the ball up with 0:05 left, giving Johnson a chance to hit a game winner. He missed though and Wake got the rebound and walked off with the win.

It must be an immense boost for the Deacs who have really competed well lately. Pretty clearly, they’re in the process of becoming an ACC team again.

As we’ve been saying with Covid on the scene, the most experienced teams have a real advantage and Georgia Tech is one of those teams. They almost took Virginia Saturday, losing 64-62 after being ahead for most of the game so close but no cigar: Virginia is still in first place and undefeated in the conference.

Georgia Tech pushed them though and Jose Alvarado finished with 20 while Jordan Usher got 19.

Virginia shrugged off a late 11-point deficit and surged back to claim the win. It took a late block from Jay Huff to seal the deal though, snuffing Moses Wright with 0:42 left. Georgia Tech couldn't get another basket and Virginia left with another win that came down to how it managed the end game. A lot of their games do and they generally handle that better than anyone else.

By the way, Kihei Clark, the 5-8 guard that Tony Bennett declared a “winner” in high school scored Virginia’s final basket.

Finally, we thought Virginia Tech was playing well enough to beat Syracuse: not even close.

Well it was close in the first half but Syracuse took the lead with 3:02 left and never looked back. In the second, they just pulled away, building a 19 point lead.

Virginia Tech has been a great three point shooting team but not Saturday: the Hokies were just 8-29 and only Nahiem Alleyne hit more than one. Jalen Cone was 1-8.

Not that Syracuse was any better; in fact, at 4-13 they were worse.

But they shot 50 percent to Virginia Tech’s 32.8 percent and won despite poor outings from Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim.

Only one game Sunday as Notre Dame visits Miami. Both teams are struggling but it should still be an interesting game.

ACC Standings