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ACC Roundup - Clemson Loses Again But Stays In First Place Anyway

As the race becomes more interesting

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Boston College
 Feb 4, 2023; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles forward Quinten Post (12) defends Syracuse Orange center Jesse Edwards (14) during the first half at the Conte Forum. 
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

In Saturday’s ACC Action, Virginia Tech shot down Virginia 74-68, Miami topped Clemson 78-74, Wake Forest handled Notre Dame 81-64, NC State survived Georgia Tech 72-64, Florida State ended Louisville’s win streak at one, 81-78 and Syracuse got by BC 77-68.

Virginia Tech has struggled but no one should doubt they are a dangerous team and they proved that against Virginia, a game in which they never trailed.

They also scored 74 points against Virginia, which is not easy, and shot 50 percent, which, again, is not easy against that defense. Sean Pedulla had 22 while Justin Mutts got 17 and hit 7-11.

Tony Bennett has built an admirable program but it is profoundly defense first. Virginia is just not built for a shootout. This wasn’t exactly a shootout, but Virginia had to keep up offensively and couldn’t.

We thought NC State might decapitate Georgia Tech and wondered if Josh Pastner might have lost his team.

Well, not yet.

You won’t see this every day this season and possibly not again, but GEORGIA TECH SHOT A HIGHER PERCENTAGE THAN AN OPPONENT.

This is a team with a wretched offense and State has had a brilliant, punishing defense. Yet the Yellow Jackets ripped off a 19-6 run early and the game was tied with 61-61 with 2:34 left. State did pull away after that, but we just didn’t see any way Tech was going to be in this one. Yet they were.

Terquavion Smith had just five points but also had 10 assists. DJ Burns had 24. Miles Kelly had 17 to pace Tech. Javon Franklin added 16.

The only guy for either team to score off the bench was State’s Ernest Ross, who had 16. The Wolfpack has now won eight of its last nine, which ain’t bad. The only loss was to UNC in the game where Terquavion Smith was taken out on a stretcher.

Clemson lost its second straight game, this time to Miami following the loss to Boston College, but since Virginia Tech did the Tigers a solid in beating Virginia, Clemson is still in first place.

Miami played very well and never trailed in the second half. Nijel Pack had 20 to lead Miami and Isaiah Wong chipped in 15. Norchad Omier had 10 points and seven boards.

For Los Tigres, PJ Hall had 19 points. Hunter Tyson had 13, shooting 5-7 (good thing). But Chase Hunter and Brevin Galloway combined to hit 7-23.

Galloway might have something of an excuse as he is returning from the relatively rare problem of an exploding nutsack (his phrase).

Clemson goes to UNC next and that’s suddenly a much more interesting game.

Wake Forest beat Notre Dame. It’s not exactly a news flash that the Irish have no fight, but Wake had lost four straight going into this one.

Damien Monsanto hit eight threes and finished with 28, a career high but here’s something unusual: Notre Dame, a team built to win on threes, didn’t hit one until there was 13:47 left in the game and only hit 4-21.

The Irish played well in the first half but lost it in the second. Consider: Wake scored 27 points in the first half and 54 in the second. Thin bench? Tired legs? Giving up?

Hard to say but it doesn't really matter. Notre Dame is now 10-13 and going nowhere fast.

Louisville beat Georgia Tech the last time out but couldn’t really compete with Florida State despite the three point final margin.

Florida State led the entire game, at one point by 17.

But Louisville did rally and tied the game at 74-74 with 2:08. But as we’ve seen so often this year, the Cardinals just can’t get it done. Mike James, who may become a really good player, missed a three to tie at the buzzer, leaving Louisville fans heartbroken yet again.

On second thought, saying they couldn’t compete with Florida State is too harsh, because they did compete. They played hard and that’s progress. They just couldn’t finish it.

Cam Corhen, who appears to have firmly moved into the starting lineup, had 16 to pace FSU. Matthew Cleveland had 15.

El Ellis had 22 for the Cards while Jae’Lyn Withers had 14. Kamari Lands had 15 off the bench.

Newcomer Emmanuel Okorafor played for nine minutes, getting two points three boards, an assist and a block.

And, unfortunately, four fouls.

Jesse Edwards was pretty unstoppable against BC, racking up 27 points on 12-15 from the floor. Joe Girard hit just 4-13 but hit 9-9 from the line. Syracuse hit 21-24 overall, which is pretty good.

Surprisingly, given their offensive woes, BC hit 11 threes to Syracuse’s meager four, but the 2-3 zone probably had something to do with that: the Eagles took 35 of them, which was more than half of their shots.

Quinten Post has been playing very well lately and was solid here too, scoring 18. Other than Jaeden Zackery, who hit 5-9 and 3-6 on his three point attempts.

BC has a lot of heart, just not a lot of talent, and they hung with Syracuse until deep in the second half. Hopefully, Earl Grant can get more and we can see what he is capable of with a better roster.

No games until Monday, when Duke plays Miami in Coral Gables.

ACC Standings