Saturday’s ACC Action was split between blowouts and thrilling back and forth games.
On the blowout side, Virginia handled BC 76-57, Notre Dame clocked Louisville 76-62 and Virginia Tech outclassed Syracuse 85-70.
We’ll come back to those.
On the other hand, NC State slipped by Wake Forest 79-77, Pitt nipped Miami 71-68 and Clemson just barely got by Florida State, 82-71.
Let’s start there.
We thought FSU might beat Clemson for two reasons: first, they’re getting better and have been competitive despite their issues. And second, Clemson is missing Alex Hemenway, who is out with plantar fasciitis and Brevin Galloway, who says his balls and ballsack blew up.
His words, not ours.
He had testicular torsion, which could have cost him one or both testicles. Fortunately, surgery corrected the problem and he’s fine and should be back soon.
And Chase Hunter was also limited by an ankle injury - or at least supposedly limited. It was a really tight game but in the closing seconds, it seemed like the ‘Noles were in position to pull off the upset.
Cam Corhen made a layup to put FSU up by three with 1:09 left. Then he fouled Hunter, who split at the line.
PJ Hall got to the line for the Tigers with :27 left and missed one to make it a one-point game at 78-77.
Caleb Mills hit his for FSU to make it 80-77.
Hall got back and made two more to make it a one point game at 80-79.
Cohen hit one more to put Florida State up by two with :08 left. Then, after a time out, Hunter made one of the great plays in Clemson history, going from one end to the other and making an amazing layup over Matthew Cleveland, who fouled him.
When you watch the replay, it just seems impossible. But somehow, he made it. And he made the free throw. And Florida State, true to form, couldn’t make a clutch play. It was a tremendous performance by the Tigers.
Hunter, who was questionable, finished with 26. And in a fun bit for his family, he and his brother Dillon, started together in the backcourt.
NC State wasn’t far behind.
When the Pack lost Dusan Mahorcic to a knee injury, it looked like a death knell, just more NC State stuff as Pack fans know it.
DJ Burns has made that less likely. He had 31 points and nine boards to lead State in a thrilling win over Wake Forest, and Wake has been giving State fits for a while now.
Wake had pulled away in the first half and it took State a while to catch up. They did with 6:32 left but it was anyone’s game with about two minutes to go.
Burns missed all of his free throws until he split a pair with 1:49 to go to put State up 73-71.
He blocked a shot before Damari Monsanto tied it back up at 73-73.
Then Burns hit a pair of free throws and on the next play fouled Tyree Appleby, who hit one of two to make it 75-74.
Terquavion Smith hit a jumper to put State up by three, followed by two as Jarkel Joiner made his free throws to put State up 79-74. Andrew Carr hit a three with :02 left to make the final score 79-77.
Since beating Duke on January 4th, NC State is 6-1 and they’re very likely to beat Florida State and Georgia Tech at home before going to Virginia.
Miami and Pitt were tied at 7-3 going into Saturday’s game. Pitt pulled off a really gutty win over a very good Miami team.
The ‘Canes went up 17-15 and stayed up until :33 when Blake Hinton tipped in a missed layup by a streaking Jamarius Burton.
Miami called a timeout and then Burton stole the ball from the normally steady Isaiah Wong.
Then - this gets a bit dizzying - Greg Elliott had a turnover for Pitt, then he stole it back from Wooga Poplar, who fouled him. He made his free throws, then Wong missed a three with :01 left.
Now Pitt is in third place in the ACC and on target for an NCAA bid. For Jeff Capel, who has struggled to build his program, and most of his players, many of whom transferred in, it has to be a sweet time: they are getting a personal shot at redemption.
BC hung around for about 15:00 minutes before Virginia did that Virginia thing and strangled them. The Eagles had 16 turnovers and shot just 4-14 on threes. They only got six offensive rebounds too. Add it up and it wasn’t good.
Quentin Post continues to impress: he had 24 points and six rebounds. This follows a 17 point performance against Armando Bacot and UNC and a 29 point outburst against Notre Dame. He’s emerged as a real force for Earl Grant’s BC.
But Jaeden Zackery was nearly shut out, held to just two points. Makai Ashton-Langford scored 12; no one else scored more than four for Boston College.
We thought that Louisville might have a chance at Notre Dame, given how bad the Irish have been lately, but nope: Notre Dame nearly doubled the score just 12 minutes in and never let the Cards back in.
JJ Starling had 22 to lead Notre Dame. Dane Goodwin had 10 rebounds, which speaks well of him but poorly of the defense.
Freshman Mike James has been coming on for Louisville: he had 14 here on 6-8 from the floor. But El Ellis, who has more than carried the burden in a dismal year, was held to eight. Jae’lyn Withers had 10.
Louisville once had a string of winning at least 10 games a season for decades. At 2-17, if that’s still active, it’s now terminal.
Finally, Virginia Tech looks to be turning things around. They beat Duke of course last Monday but before that, they nearly got Clemson, losing 51-50 in LIttlejohn.
On Saturday, they just blasted Syracuse. They won by 15 but it wasn’t anywhere near that close. Virginia Tech was vastly sharper, moved the ball beautifully and getting pretty much whatever they wanted on the offensive end. Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone?
Shredded. Virginia Tech hit 13 threes (40.6 percent) and hit 53.3 percent overall.
It reflects their superb ball movement. Not surprisingly perhaps, the Hokies had 26 assists on 32 shots, which is tremendous. Joe Girard hit just 2-8. Judah Mintz had 21 points but was just 5-12.
It was a really impressive performance.
Virginia Tech has a favorable schedule coming up. Miami on the road will be tough and Virginia is no day at the beach. But there’s also BC, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. They’ll also get Louisville and Florida State later. The chance of a really strong finish is there.
No more games until Monday, when Virginia heads to the Great White North, AKA Syracuse.
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- Hunter’s Heroics Push Clemson Past Florida State, 82-81
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- In win at Wake Forest, NC State proves it could have thrived without Terquavion Smith
- NC State basketball rallies in second half, earns 79-77 ACC road win at Wake Forest
- Wake Forest has no answer for N.C. State’s Burns