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ACC Roundup Heels, Yellow Jackets Get Big Wins

As Wake Forest and Notre Dame suffer rough losses

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech
Feb 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Moses Wright (5) shoots against the Syracuse Orange in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. 
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In Saturday’s ACC Action, Clemson got Miami 66-58, Virginia Tech annihilated Wake Forest 84-46, Boston College surprised Notre Dame 94-90 and UNC upset Florida State 78-70.

Walker Kessler, who had been glued to the bench for much of the season, has emerged late and has been terrific. He certainly was against Florida State, with 20 points in 24 minutes on 9-10 shooting, eight rebounds, five of them offensive and four blocks.

Hard to argue with that.

He’s been behind Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks and Da’Ron Sharpe all season but outplayed all three of them Saturday.

UNC was down 16 before starting a solid, steady comeback that saw them pull ahead 52-50 with 11:45 to play.

It was quite a change from some recent UNC performances, at least in the second half.

And congratulations to Roy Williams, who won his 900th game.

We felt certain that Boston College, with minimal scholarship players available, no Winston Tabbs and having fired Jim Christian, would lose to Notre Dame.

But they were superb.

BC didn’t have its first turnover until 25 minutes or so were gone. You’d really need a packed data base to answer this question but is that the longest any three-win team near the end of the season has gone without a turnover?

The Eagles had a pretty solid 10 point lead with 7:44 to go but the Irish kept coming and with :48 left it was a four-point game with the Irish determined to make BC win it on the line.

Which they did, hitting 7-8 late attempts. It was a brilliant performance by a team that has had a very tough season and in fact was coming off a significant Covid pause.

It’s not easy for Brey either. After the game, he said “I just think this was the ultimate trap game. Let’s be honest: We got trapped in the bear trap...They had a new coach and great spirit.”

This isn’t going over well at home, where, in our opinion, columnist Tom Nole has been laying the groundwork to call for Brey to be fired. Check out his latest column. He’s going to lower the boom soon.

Wake Forest just had its doors blow off in Blacksburg as the Hokies hit Wake Forest with its fourth straight loss, all by 18 or more.

This after taking Florida State to overtime on the 13th of this month. It’s quite a fall. But it’s also true that, other than NC State, all three of those losses were rematches and the other teams had a better understanding of this Wake Forest team. Steve Forbes has done an amazing job in many respects. He’s taken a team of retreads and average talent and turned it into a group that can compete with ranked teams.

Or at least has.

Not on Saturday though.

Only Jonah Antonio hit more than two shots as the Deacs hit just 15 shots in the game and of those, 10 were threes.

In other words, Wake Forest hit just five shots inside the line. They also had 18 turnovers.

Basically, VT just strangled them.

The good news is that Forbes has established the principles of his program and his players seem to have generally bought in. And like Pitt’s Jeff Capel, he’s going to be able to sort though lots and lots of seniors and grad student transfers who have extra years to play, thanks to the pandemic. Both coaches will be able to rebuild their rosters in a big hurry.

The Syracuse-Georgia Tech game was really interesting.

The Yellow Jackets went up, only to see Syracuse fight back, only for the Orange to see Tech push back out in front again.

Moses Wright had 31 and dominated Syracuse inside. But in the comeback, Alan Griffin had 20 points in the first half and played brilliantly.

Unfortunately he only managed six more the rest of the way.

Georgia Tech, with four seniors and two juniors in key roles, is playing grown man basketball. It’s a considerable advantage.

Jose Alvarado only had four points but he had six assists before fouling out and continues to show that he can make smart decisions very quickly. This is not a team anyone is going to want to see early in the NCAA Tournament. They’re definitely beatable but you have to really earn it.

Remember how Clemson got clobbered repeatedly after its own Covid pause? Yeah, that’s over.

The Tigers have now won five straight, defeating UNC by 13, Syracuse by 17, Georgia Tech by two, Wake Forest by 21 and Miami by eight.

Just for the record, that’s an average win margin of just under 15.

To be fair, Miami is very limited by injuries and really didn’t have much of a chance here.

Even so, Isaiah Wong continued his stellar play, hitting 28 on 10-18 and 3-6 from deep. Consider he’s now Miami’s main, and sometimes only scorer, and that everyone knows he’s going to get the ball, his continued production is very impressive.

Only one game on Sunday as Pitt visits Raleigh for its first game since junior stars Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney decided to leave the program. NC State is surging and will be an interesting challenge for Jeff Capel’s altered team.

Sunday’s ACC Action

  • Pitt at NC State || 4:00 || ACCN

ACC Standings