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ACC Roundup - UNC Roars, Virginia Waking Up?

A huge game for UNC but yet another injury for reeling Florida State

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at North Carolina
Feb 12, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Leaky Black (1) in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center. 
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In Saturday’s ACC Action, Miami nipped Wake 76-72, Pitt clipped NC State 71-69, UVA took out Georgia Tech 63-53, Virginia Tech held off a Syracuse comeback to win 71-59, Notre Dame beat Clemson 76-61 and UNC just beat the ever-loving snot out of Florida State, 94-74.

This might have been UNC’s best performance of the year although the loss to Purdue was impressive. And this one has a caveat in that FSU has some really awful injuries and it got worse Saturday as Caleb Mills went down with an ankle injury. He only got seven minutes and no points.

None of that changes the fact that UNC went up 18-0 and was up by 38 at the half. You can’t put all that down to Florida State’s problems. It was a beat down without question. FSU gets some credit for outscoring UNC 50-34 in the second half but there’s no minimizing it an consider this too: UNC didn’t do this to Loyola, Brown, Charleston, Michigan, Elon, Furman or App State.

You have to feel a bit for Mills, who also had ankle problems at Houston before he transferred with two ankle injuries. This is going to be a concern for NBA teams going forward.

Wake was in control of the Miami game, up 13, before the Hurricanes rallied to make a game of it. Part of the problem was 17 Demon Deacon turnovers.

We like Kameron McGusty but we have always liked Isaiah Wong; he’s one of our favorites. The two combined for 42 of Miami’s 76.

Miami’s weak inside game will probably limit the ‘Canes in the post-season but this is a talented and intelligent team.

We’ve said before that this is a tough season for NC State due to injuries but the Pack keeps fighting. Unfortunately so did Pitt, and the Panthers beat State by two in the Pete.

State’s two most talented players, Dereon Seabron and Terquavion Smith, were kept under control and that was it for the Pack. Seabron had 17 but had to work for it; Smith shot just 2-12 and finished with six. Jericole Hellems was 3-7 for 10.

State gave Jaylon Gibson the start at center but he got just nine minutes.

For you Pack fans, we would expect Smith back and hope Seabron comes back too. He’s probably a second-round pick now at best. If they do come back, State has a chance to be really, really good next year.

John Hugley has struggled lately but he had a great game with 21 points and 10 boards. State put him on the line for 15 attempts; he hit 13. Ithiel Horton had his best game since being back from suspension with 25.

Pitt is now 10-16 which is obviously not great but the team has stayed together and Horton has really helped. Unfortunately the stretch run for the Panthers ends with a trip to UNC followed by home games with Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke and then a road trip to South Bend. Pretty brutal.

Don’t look now but after a rough start Virginia has won four straight. Virginia held Georgia Tech to a 19 point first half and entered the second with a 13 point lead.

Tech rallied and cut the lead to two at 49-47 but the thing about Virginia is their defense exhausts you and if you’re not up late it’s really hard to get ahead. And they’re also remarkably smart in the final minutes of games as we saw at Duke.

Bennett’s personal record against Georgia Tech is 16-2.

Virginia Tech never really got away from Syracuse until the end but led most of the way and maintained a lead for most of the second half. Syracuse tied it at 54-54 with 6:56 left but it was all Hokies after that, with Virginia Tech outscoring the Orange 17-5 down the stretch.

But there is an eye-popping stat in here that has to be noted. We assumed Syracuse would be in big trouble without Jesse Edwards, out with a wrist injury. But Frank Anselem, filling in, had 15 rebounds, including five offensive. And unlike Edwards, he played 36 minutes with just three fouls. Edwards fouled out in 13 against BC in his last game of the season.

Justyn Mutts racked up the second triple-double in Hokies history with 12 points, 14 boards and 11 assists.

Clemson led Notre Dame 3-2 and that was it for the Tigers being in front. Blake Wesley, who to us looks like a clear NBA talent, had 18 points in the first eight minutes. The Irish went up 28-11 and for the rest of the game it was just a question of how much they would win by.

Keep in mind that the Tigers were down two starters as Hunter Tyson is out long-term with a broken clavicle and David Collins served his one-game suspension for his reckless take down of Duke’s Wendell Moore earlier in the week.

Good news for the Irish: Nate Laszewski, who had a bruised bone, played 16 minutes off the bench. They really need him.

As Barry pointed out in his excellent annual Super Bowl/ACC chart and column, there are no Sunday games this weekend, which is too bad. It’s a great tradition the ACC should honor.

Next game is Monday when Virginia and Virginia Tech try to kill each other.

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