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ACC Roundup - What A Saturday

Thank God Terquavion Smith is okay.

NC State v North Carolina
 CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 21: Teammates reach out to touch Terquavion Smith #0 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack as he leaves the court after being injured during the second half of their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Dean E. Smith Center on January 21, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 80-69.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

In Saturday’s ACC Action, Virginia cut down Wake Forest 76-67, Syracuse clobbered Georgia Tech 80-63, Boston College popped Notre Dame 84-72, Florida State ran by Pitt 71-64, Virginia Tech fell at Clemson, 51-50 and UNC beat NC State 80-69.

People are going to be talking about that game for a long time and not for a good reason: Terquavion Smith had a hard fall and had to be taken out by stretcher.

It happened when he went in for a layup and Leaky Black reached across him to try to block it. Instead he hit Smith in the face and sent him sprawling.

The entire Dean Dome went deathly silent as Smith writhed on the ground, which in a sense was a good sign: he surely couldn’t be paralyzed.

Nonetheless, they ended up calling out a stretcher and wheeling him off court. After he left, the officials ruled that it was a flagrant II and ejected Black and the crowd, which had just cheered Smith, now booed.

That was a low moment, honestly. It didn't have to happen.

That said, did it look like Black made a dirty play?

Not to us, no.

It looked like he made a play for the ball and was too late.

If he had a history of those sorts of plays, we’d buy it, but he’s never seemed like that kind of guy. And in fairness to Black, who sought to call Smith after the game, he apologized and sent his best wishes.

Does that mean that the ACC won’t suspend him?

They might. It just depends on how they interpret the foul and how seriously they take it.

But for our part, we don’t think it was malicious.

There is a bit of good news though: Smith tweeted from the hospital that he’s fine, which is a relief, but you should probably wait for a more formal prognosis.

Not surprisingly, Armando Bacot abused State inside. They didn't really have anyone to counter him with. Bacot finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds.

NC State had 27 rebounds.


Still, the Pack competed and were game. They also held UNC to 37 percent and just 4-18 on threes. Caleb Love was just 3-14. Pete Nance was 2-5 and Leaky Black 2-6.

If you take Bacot and RJ Davis out of the equation, UNC shot just 9-33.

So State defended reasonably well, although they did put Davis on the foul line where he cleaned up: he was 14-14 from the stripe.

There are things to build on here, but the inability to stop a big man will be a theme we revisit in today’s ACC Roundup.

Take Boston College.

We thought the emotions around Mike Brey’s retirement announcement might lead to a win.


In fact, big man Quentin Post had a career night with 29 points and 14 rebounds to lead BC to an 84-72 win. Shot 10-14 too, including 4-5 on threes.

Then again, so did Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski, who shot 7-9 from three point range, 8-11 overall and finished with 29 points of his own and seven boards.

Notre Dame did fight back, but it’s a very thin team and not much margin for error.

By the way, consider this: BC won with relative ease despite getting just four points from mainstay Jaeden Zackery.

In Atlanta, Jesse Edwards had a relatively easy time, scoring 14 on 6-9 from the floor as Georgia Tech is still pretty small.

But one of the smallest players on the court was also the deadliest as Joe Girard had one of his best games ever, racking up 28 points, seven assists, five rebounds, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Yellow Jacket in a peach tree.

Georgia Tech played well for the first 11 minutes or so but after that, it was all Syracuse.

Girard was outstanding, obviously, but check this out: freshman Maliq Brown was 8-9 off the bench.

With the loss, Georgia Tech falls to 8-11 overall and just 1-8 in the ACC and left saying this year’s ACC mantra: Thank God For Louisville.

Syracuse, meanwhile, is quietly doing well. After starting 4-4, the Orange are now 13-7.

We didn’t link to it because it’s paywalled, but the Alanta Journal-Constitution had an article up about rising unhappiness with Josh Pastner. Something to keep an eye on.

Let’s flip the script: Virginia’s inside play could be a problem. Kaeden Shedrick has left the starting lineup and Tony Bennett has his skinny 6-11 frame stuck firmly to the bench: he only got three minutes against Wake Forest.

But Ben Vander Plas, who at times looks like a really great player, got 29 minutes and got just eight points. Senior Jayden Gardner, who was a real solid presence last season, had just five points on 2-7.

Fortunately for UVA, the perimeter is really good. Armaan Franklin had 25, Kihei Clark had 12, Reece Beekman had eight and Isaac McKneely had 11 off the bench.

Not that they shot great in this one - a combined 16-42 - but as always, Virginia plays solid defense and values the ball.

Wake managed just 20-51 (39.2 percent) and hit six less threes. The Deacs weren’t able to take advantage of their superiority inside as big men Matthew Marsh and Andrew Carr were nearly shut out although Carr did have 10 rebounds But they only got the ball enough to put up seven shots in the entire 40 minutes and only hit three of those.

Tyree Appleby, who has had a great year for the Deacs, was held to 4-16.

Break up the ‘Noles! FSU won back-to-back games for the first time this season with its win over Pitt.

Darin Green had 24 to pace the Seminoles.

Pitt’s rotation was extremely limited and it didn't help when Blake Hinson fouled out. He’s the closest thing to an inside presence that Pitt has. Starting center Federiko Federiko had eight points and eight boards, along with three blocks, in 34 minutes. Backup Guillermo Diaz Graham was ineffective.

Worse, Nike Sibande, who was so impressive at Duke, was just 1-6 off the bench, and he was their most impressive reserve.

Pitt started off well but after about the first five minutes, Florida State went on a 14-0 run that coincided with a 2-17 streak of futility by Pitt. the Panthers tied it up at 56-56 with 9:06 left. It was a one-point game at 65-64 with 2:19 but Pitt would not score again.

Darin Green hit a three then FSU followed that with free throws and that, as they say, was that.

Pitt did fight, but couldn’t quite overcome.

Sounds vaguely like Virginia Tech at Clemson.

That was a taut, hard-fought game. Virginia Tech has really struggled since beating Grambling on December 17th. They lost Hunter Cattoor in the next game against BC and just got him back on Wednesday for UVA, a game they were almost certainly not going to win.

So the fact that they’re still together, and were highly competitive against Clemson means a lot. They could have, and arguably should have, won in Littlejohn.

But up 50-48 with :12 seconds left, Hunter Tyson got loose for an inbounds pass at the top of the key and faked Cattoor, who was trying desperately to cover him, into Larry Bird’s old parachutist club - and then nailed the three.

When the Hokies came down after Clemson called timeout, they had a well-conceived play to give Cattoor an open three with :04 left - which he short-armed.

It was a brutal way to lose and particularly so for Cattoor, who had two chances to be the hero and whiffed.

As we said though, the Hokies have stuck together and since Duke plays them on Monday, don’t think they’re going to roll over. It’s still a proud program.

No games until the Duke-Virginia Tech battle on Monday.

ACC Standings