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ACC Roundup: Two Tight Games On Saturday

And one relatively easy win

Clemson v Louisville
 LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 25: Head coach Brad Brownell of the Clemson Tigers looks on during a game against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on January 25, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville defeated Clemson 80-62.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Every ACC team that played Saturday scored between 64 and 66 points except for one.

That would be Louisville as the Cards knocked off BC 76-64.

Louisville built a 15 point lead and although the Eagles never stopped competing and cut into the lead substantially, they never could put themselves back into the game.

With the loss, BC falls to 2-7 and the odds that this is Jim Christian’s last season increase. A lot of people thought that only the pandemic got him an extra season last year.

Who would be interested in the job?

We’d start with some young and aggressive coaches. They missed a chance to hire Nate Oats but there a lot of guys worth asking about like Luke Yaklich, for example.

Yaklich made his bones with John Beilein at Michigan before moving on to work for Shaka Smart at Texas. He’s in his first season at UIC but he’s got a reputation as a defensive savant so we’d certainly look.

We’d also look at San Francisco’s Todd Golden. In his first season he finished 22-12. So far this year he’s 7-5 with a win over Virginia and a credible effort against Gonzaga. He also is familiar with Catholic education so that’s bound to be a plus.

Finally, he played at St. Mary’s so he may have some awareness of the valuable Aussie recruiting connections that Randy Bennett has developed for the Gaels.

The other two games both ended 66-65 as UNC nipped Notre Dame and Clemson survived a gutty Miami effort.

Miami did get Kameron McGusty back and he played meaningful minutes but still doesn’t have pocket rocket Chris Lykes and Rodney Miller is out for the year.

So it was as great effort and a near miss for the ‘Canes in a game that wasn’t decided until Nick Honor stole the ball from McGusty with :04 left on the clock.

Clemson is now 8-1 and playing like the best team in the ACC.

Aamir Simms finished with 25 points on 10-14 shooting to pace the Tigers.

In Chapel Hill, meanwhile, UNC was ready to fall again but Kerwin Walton wasn’t having it.

The freshman from Minnesota has moved into the starting lineup and provided UNC with something it desperately needs: reliable outside shooting.

Kerwin hit 4-8 with all attempts from three point range which kind of suggests he was told to air it out. Smart: he’s hitting 50 percent on the year on threes.

We figured that Ol’ Roy Williams had shaken up the starting lineup last time out as a motivational ploy. Surely he wouldn’t keep Garrison Brooks out of the starting lineup.

Well, Brooks came off the bench again as Da’Ron Sharpe and Armando Bacot got the starting roles up front.

Bacot has played well lately but shot just 1-7 here, but in fairness, Notre Dame clogged the lane and dared UNC to shoot, a dare that Kerwin was happy to take.

Sharpe had 25 points and nine boards while Bacot grabbed 10. Brooks had five points, eight boards and four assists off the bench.

Sharpe got a dunk with 1:36 left to put UNC up 64-63 but guess who got him the ball?

It was one of Brooks’s four assists and the most timely one to be sure.

Prentiss Hubb took the lead back for the Irish about a minute later before Leaky Black hit a shot to give UNC its final margin with :09 left.

Granted, it wasn’t much of a margin but one is enough.

UNC thus moves to 6-4 while Notre Dame falls to 3-6.

So all three games had a certain level of drama: BC as Christian’s time dwindles. Clemson as the Tigers surge to the best record in the ACC which they share with Virginia Tech but also hold the tiebreaker. Miami as the ‘Canes try to hold things together until everyone is healthy.

And in Chapel Hill, both teams are desperate to start winning again. UNC is closer to it than Notre Dame is, but the Irish have certainly shown heart.

Two games on Sunday as 6-1 NC State is almost certain to move to 7-1 against Gardner-Webb while 3-0 Wake Forest goes on the road to Georgia Tech.

One important factor to consider: State is going to play at Gardner-Webb. That’s ballsy. Playing in-state teams is one thing; playing them at their 3,500 seat arena? That’s asking for trouble.

We can’t see how Wake Forest wins this but you never know. There’s no question that Georgia Tech is erratic and capable of either a great game or a true stinker. Wake has barely had a chance to play so far though and didn't overwhelm against Catawba so it seems like it’s asking a lot.

Sunday’s ACC Action

  • NC State @ Gardner-Webb || 1:00 || ESPN+
  • Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech || 6:00 || ACCN

ACC Standings