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ACC Roundup - Ernest Ross Has A Star Turn For NC State

Nice job by the slim sophomore!

CORAL GABLES, FL - DEC 10: NC State forward Ernest Ross (24) handles the ball while defended by Miami guard Jordan Miller (11) in the second half as the Miami Hurricanes faced the NC State Wolfpack on December 10, 2022, at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida.
Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Saturday’s ACC Action, Virginia took down FSU 67-58, Pitt clipped Georgia Tech 71-60, Syracuse knocked off Notre Dame 78-73, Wake Forest topped BC 85-63, UNC handled Louisville 80-59 and NC State won the thriller of the day, 83-81 in overtime.

And look who was the star of the game - Ernest Ross.

Ross, 6-9 and clearly talented but very thin, has had a tough time establishing a role in Raleigh. He was pressed into service last year after Manny Bates went down in the first minute of the season, but like Ebenezer Dowuona, he just wasn’t ready.

But he had 17 here, including the go-ahead basket, and when State tossed the ball in for the final in-bounds, Ross got the pass, which seemed fitting. He finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. Dowuona, who got the start, had just two points. DJ Burns finished with 13 points and seven boards, meaning State’s big-man-by-committee ended up with 32 points and 19 rebounds. Ross had six offensive boards while Burns had five.

Part of this is because Miami, as good as they are, is smallish. Norchad Omier is their biggest starter and he’s just 6-8.

Last year, remember, Jim Larranaga had 6-10 Sam Waardenburg and 7-0 Rodney Miller. Their NCAA tournament run was a thing of beauty, and it was largely because of brilliant guard play, but you still have to defend inside. It could be a fatal flaw.

Dean Smith was famous for a lot of things, but one of the things that opposing fan bases liked the least was how he would spend days talking about how injured someone was and they couldn’t hope to play, only to shake off the cape like James Brown and rush back into action.

Maybe Hubert Davis was listening because much of the run up to the Louisville game was about how UNC would manage without Armando Bacot and Pete Nance.

But in classic Smith fashion, when the ball went up, Bacot was on the court, and he finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Louisville, now 2-16, managed just 1-14 from three point range, good for 7.1 percent, and just 37.0 overall.

The Cardinals did start off well but UNC fought back and took the lead at 20-19 with 7:43 left in the first half and that was that.

They did start well, so there’s that, but that’s about it.

D’Marco Dunn had 14 off the bench, which must be welcome news for Davis.

As usual, El Ellis led the Cards, this time with 22. No one else got into double figures.

Wake Forest had an easy-peezy night at BC, winning by 22. Andrew Carr had 21 points on 10-14 front the floor and 13 boards, while Cameron Hildreth added 20. The Deacs shot 52.3 percent.

BC meanwhile managed just 38.2 percent. Quentin Post has worked his way back into the starting lineup and had 10. Jaeden Zackery led the way with 14 while Makai Ashton-Langford kicked in 12.

Virginia won its third straight with a relatively easy triumph over Florida State. Ben Vander Plas moved into the starting lineup, replacing Kadin Shedrick (who just got five minutes) and did well with 15 points and seven boards.

Poor Baba Miller just can’t catch a break: after his NCAA suspension was finally lifted in time for FSU’s recent game against Wake Forest. Now?

Tonsillitis. He sat this one out.

What’s up with Jayden Gardner? He had four against Pitt, 10 at Syracuse, three against UNC and just three against FSU. He was pretty solid last year.

Florida State is just 5-13, which leads to a new ACC motto: thank God for Louisville.

We watched Nike Sibande at Duke and liked his style. He’s athletic and quick.

Against Georgia Tech, he racked up 21.

It wasn’t that Pitt blew the Yellow Jackets away, but rather that they were consistently ahead later in the game. Tech could never catch up.

Not surprisingly, Tech shot poorly, hitting just 36.4 percent, although they managed 41.4 percent from behind the line.

Tech is now just 8-9, so once again, thank God for Louisville.

Without John Hugley, Pitt is struggling inside. Federiko Federiko, the man so nice they named him twice, is thin, but backup Guillermo Diaz Graham is close to Chet Holmgren thin.

They’re going to have to get used to it: on Saturday, apparently at home in Cleveland, Hugley issued a statement saying that he needed to focus on rehab and his mental health.

Capel had been kind of vague about why he wasn’t playing but that clears it up. We wish him the very best.

Notre Dame had another late collapse at Syracuse. Up 12 at 56-44 with 12:54 to go, the Irish couldn’t hold on and that means just one thing: another ugly column by hometown columnist Tom Noie!

Last season, he seemed to be laying the groundwork for firing Mike Brey, but had to recalibrate after Notre Dame’s solid NCAA run.

Unfortunately, this season he has a point because the Irish have been awful and it doesn’t make sense. They are experienced and very much the kind of team Brey likes. For whatever, reason, it ain’t working.

Ok, one, two, three: Thank God for Louisville!

Syracuse is quietly doing better than NC State, Duke, UNC and Florida State in the standings. Their ceiling probably isn’t very high but they are competitive, and the 2-3 zone gives them a puncher’s chance if they should make it to the postseason.

Long-time NC Commissioner of Agriculture Thad Eure (he was in office from 1936-1989) used to say he was the oldest rat in the Democratic barn. In ACC terms, that’s Jim Boehiem, who has been at Syracuse his entire life since arriving out of high school in 1963 except for few seasons of low-level pro ball. He returned in 1969 and has been there ever since.

Imagine: Boeheim was on staff at Syracuse when Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon. The Beatles were still together. Janice, Jimi and Jim were all still alive. Mike Krzyzewski was still playing for Army.

That’s a long time.

The point?

The program has clearly declined since joining the ACC. However, Boeheim has vast experience and while the program has clearly deteriorated, you can never completely rule them out, and certainly not when an opponent is as helpful as Notre Dame was.

It’s a bit early for this, but it won’t be all that long before Boeheim (78), Leonard Hamilton (74) and Jim Larranaga (73) will step aside, and, whether they want to or not, Brey and Pastner may join them.

Those are some very interesting jobs. We’ve pushed for someone - anyone, really - to pursue Northwestern Missouri State’s Ben McCollum, who is putting up Woodenesque numbers in D-II, but he may prefer to stay in the Midwest. That would make Notre Dame a great fit.

Just as a fun thought, what would it be like to have John Calipari at Miami? He’s having issues at Kentucky to be sure (although UK beat Tennessee Saturday), but sometimes a fresh start is good and he clearly can still recruit. Keep it in mind. He’d probably love Miami but it’d be a paycut.

We’d certainly keep an eye on Duke assistant Jai Lucas. He’s highly regarded. Loyola’s Drew Valentine is also going to be a hot name in upcoming searches.

We’d also keep an eye on Shantay Legans at Portland. That guy made an impression on us. And as far as Florida State and Miami go, don’t overlook Jacksonville’s Jordan Mincey.

And needless to say, keep an eye on whoever finishes well at a place like Murray State or Niagara because he’ll be a hot name in March.

If you aren’t keeping track, former Duke guard Greg Paulus is at Niagara now.

No games until Monday when Syracuse visits Miami.

ACC Standings