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ACC Roundup - Break Up The Yellow Jackets!

What a night for Georgia Tech - and what a nightmare for Syracuse

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Georgia Tech v Syracuse
The Georgia Tech bench got cramps from doing this so much at Syracuse.
Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Remember when people (okay, us) said that Georgia Tech was doomed? That, after Duke beat Tech by 43 and losing to Louisville in the next game that perhaps Josh Pastner had lost his team?

After the nine game losing streak?

Don't look now but the Yellow Jackets have won four out of the last five and just ripped Syracuse a new one Tuesday night,

Georgia Tech hit 18 threes and bombed so relentlessly that Jim Boeheim abandoned his beloved 2-3 zone and went man-to-man.

Not that it mattered.

As he said after the game, his team has regressed defensively. This is the third straight game that Syracuse has given up 90 points or more. And in the last four games - this is amazing - opponents have scored 61 treys.

Miles Kelly hit 7-14, finishing with 30 and Lance Terry hit 7-10 on his threes, finishing with 24. Kyle Sturdivant racked up 20 of his own. It’s a huge change for a team that earlier couldn’t have tossed a basketball into the street.

After the game, Pastner said Tech shot so well it might have beaten anybody. Certainly there was nothing the Orange could do about it. Now the question is: can the Yellow Jackets keep it going? They finish with BC on Saturday and then go to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament. They’re probably too thin to pull off a tournament miracle - one of the ways they were so impressive Tuesday night was that two players - Deivon Smith and Tristan Maxwell - were out and they were still dominant. Just a hugely impressive performance by the Yellow Jackets.

Speaking of BC, the Eagles have been on a pretty solid roll. They came into the Wake Forest game with wins over Florida State and Virginia, and left with a third straight victory and are now at 15-15. Who saw that coming when this team was 8-11?

BC trailed 39-40 with 15:22 to play and then just took over - and on the road, too. pulling ahead 58-43 with 9:30 left

But Wake Forest charged back to make a game of it, and tied the game 69-69 with :20 left.

And then Makai Ashton-Langford made a great shot. Not a good shot - a great one. He faked his defender, Lucas Taylor, into the air and then hit a beautiful little scoop shot with :03 left.

And after that, Jaeden Zackary stole the ball from Cameron Hildreth and that was ballgame.

So two stirring wins by struggling ACC teams or, perhaps, previously struggling ACC teams.

Virginia Tech and Louisville are both struggling too and the Hokies did win, 71-54, which is good.

But it’s Louisville.

And while the Cards have shown a faint pulse lately, this team is just bad. They got down and fought back to 50-47 with 9:07 to go, but as we’ve seen so often this year, couldn’t hang on. The Hokies ripped off a closing 19-2 run to settle things.

Four starters hit double figures for the Hokies while only two got there for the Cards. Louisville closes out against Virginia on Saturday and then, after a presumably short stay in Greensboro, Kenny Payne and Nolan Smith can start looking for more help.

In a hilarious bit of irony, a frisbee dog that was part of halftime took a dump on the court, which kind of sums up the season for the Cardinals.

After the home finale, Kenny Payne promised changes, saying that “I think [the fans] feel like I feel. I’m frustrated with the same things they are. Lack of energy, lack of confidence, lack of fight. I’m preaching that every day and I’m going to fix it. We’re going to get this program fixed, most likely sooner rather than later, and we’ll have kids who know what it means to represent Louisville basketball.

“But I’m not giving up on any player on this team. I challenge them and work them hard every day and I’m going to continue to challenge them, push them, give them everything I’ve got until the season is over. I hope and pray every day that they figure it out.”

It’s a proud program and it’s sad to see it brought so low. We hope he’s right.

Finally, Clemson lost a game it really needed to win at Virginia, 64-57.

As ACC fans know, playing Virginia is like having a root canal. They just mess you up.

Only Hunter Tyson and PJ Hall were really effective for the Tigers, and even then, Hunter wasn’t very efficient. Tyson hit 6-16 for 17 points while Hall shot a more respectable 9-13 for 19. But the starting guards, Chase Hunter and Brevin Galloway, combined to shoot just 4-17. Ian Schieffelin is not an offensive threat so his 1-2 is normal. But Clemson got next to nothing from the bench.

As noted previously, Virginia has not played very well lately and Tony Bennett leaned more on freshmen Ryan Dunn and Isaac McKneely, and the pair combined for 22 points. Which was good because Ben Vander Plas scored just four, Kihei Clark just five and Reece Beekman just seven.

The loss drops the Tigers to 21-9 and into a 4th place tie with Duke.

Clemson closes out with Notre Dame Saturday and if the Tigers lose that, they’ll need a good run in Greensboro to get a bid. They might need that already.

Mike Brey is down to his final days as Notre Dame’s head coach. The Irish host Pitt Wednesday night in the ACC’s only game, which means that Brey faces his old pupil Jeff Capel, whom he helped to coach at Duke.

But Pitt comes in as the #25 team in the nation and in first place in the ACC. If Capel isn’t coach of the year, there should be an investigation. The Irish might be sky high emotionally for Brey’s last game, or they might be ready to just be done. Tune in Wednesday to find out.

Wednesday’s ACC Action

Pitt vs. Notre Dame || 7:00 PM || ESPNU

ACC Standings