ACC Basketball: Wednesday Night Recap

If you like close finishes and constantly flipping between channels, Wednesday was your kind of night in the ACC. The 7:00 p.m. games were decided by a combined 12 points and the night cap was close for most of the game as well. Here’s a look back at the action.

#15 North Carolina 81 NC State 79

Carolina continued its dominance in the series over NC State but it wasn’t easy in an 81-79 victory in Raleigh. Guard Marcus Paige had a tremendous night for the Tar Heels (13-4, 3-1 ACC) scoring a game-high 23 points while dishing out nine assists to go with four steals.  Kennedy Meeks added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Brice Johnson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

NC State (12-6, 3-2 ACC) was once again paced by its trio of guards lead by Ralston Turner’s team-high 20 points. Trevor Lacey added 19 points including 10-of-10 at the free throw line. Forward Kyle Washington chipped in 17 points while Abdul-Malik Abu finished with nine points and nine rebounds.

State certainly started off a bit sluggish, but the Wolfpack found its groove as the half progressed and trailed 32-26 at the break.  Now here’s some very different halftime analysis from former coach and easily confused ESPN talking head Dan Dakich.

Wolfpack guard Ralston Turner, the team’s second leading scorer, battled foul trouble all night and picked up his third foul with 16:26 remaining in the second half.

State was able to keep pace with Roy Williams’ run-and-gun style of basketball with both teams finishing with an almost identical number of possessions and UNC posting a razor thin advantage in offensive efficiency. Carolina went on 10-0 run ending near the seven minute mark that temporarily blew the game open. The Pack fought its way back and when he needed to, Ralston Turner made some huge plays.

Turner made a 3-pointer and was fouled to make the score 73-68 UNC with 2:40 left. After a free throw on the other end, Turner hit another three the next time down to cut it to 74-71 Heels.Trevor Lacey got in on the rally after a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left cut the Carolina lead to two points.

A flurry of timeouts and free throws put NC State in a position to purposely miss a free throw with less than a second remaining, but Cody Martin just missed a tip-in at the buzzer.

Game Notes

    • Carolina now leads the all-time series against the Wolfpack 151-76. UNC has won 23 of the last 25 and 40 of the last 49 meetings.
    • Roy Williams is now 28-2 against NC State as UNC head coach.
    • NC State made just 7-of-22 3-pointers (31.8%) while UNC nailed 5-of-8 (62.5%).
    • Marcus Paige has scored 58 points in his last two trips to Raleigh.

#12 Notre Dame 62 Georgia Tech 59

Notre Dame was overmatched in the post playing without suspended big man Zach Auguste, but the irish held on for a gritty 62-59 win in Atlanta.

In a rare display of Yellow Jacket long-distance proficiency, GT guard Chris Bolden went 3-for-3 from outside in the first half to score 11 points and give the Jackets a 38-30 halftime lead.

The Irish (16-2, 4-1 ACC) had five players score at least 10 points lead by Jerian Grant’s 12 points and six assists. Pat Connaughton made just one shot from the field in the first period and made just one in the second despite finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds in what amounted to an off night.

Georgia Tech (9-7, 0-4 ACC) big man Demarco Cox took advantage of the absence of Auguste, scoring a game-high 17 points with seven rebounds. Chris Bolden added 13. Maryland transfer Charles Mitchell (five double-doubles this season) was called for a flagrant 1 foul for some aggressive post moves less than a minute into the second half. The Irish took offense and proceeded to go on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to one.

The game was back and forth until Bolden earned another flagrant 1 after essentially tackling Jerian Grant on a baseline drive approaching 12 minutes remaining.

Neither team could pull away and the result was still in doubt when Grant hit a tough step-back jumper with 19.6 seconds left to put the Irish up three. After another empty Wreck possession, Grant made a nice outlet pass and Steve Vasturia raced downcourt converted a layup, drew a foul, and completed the three-point play to seal the win.

Game Notes

      • Pat Connaughton started his 100th consecutive game for the Irish, becoming just the third player in school history to do so.
      • Notre Dame is off to its best start since the 1978-79 season when they also began 16-2. How long they hold serve will depend on whether they can conjure up a replacement for Auguste.
      • This game marks the first time Georgia Tech has lost to ND in Atlanta. The Jackets were 4-0 previously.

Boston College 64 Harvard 57 OT

The Eagles got out to a fast start against crosstown pseudo-rival Harvard but but despite cooling off in the second half, the Crimson comeback fell short in a 64-57 Boston College win in overtime.

Olivier Hanlan led the way for BC with 17 points, eight assists and four rebounds, in a complete effort that Eagles fans have come to expect. Dennis Clifford tallied 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Patrick Heckmann scored 14 points and Aaron Brown had 12 with seven rebounds.

BC (8-7, 0-3 ACC) had great success driving the lane early getting out to a double-digit lead, but the Eagles began settling for outside shots which allowed the Crimson to claw its way back. Boston College actually scored just 15 points in the second half, but the Eagles defended well and held Harvard to just 31.7% shooting from the field. That’s how you get a 45-45 tie at the end of regulation.

Harvard (10-4, 1-0 Ivy) guard Wesley Saunders played all 45 minutes of regulation and overtime notching 15 points to lead the Crimson scoring. Corbin Miller pitched in 14 while Siyani Chambers had 10. The Crimson hope to reach the NCAA tournament once again, which would make it four straight tournaments under Coach Tommy Amaker.

Hanlan’s biggest plays came in overtime when he made two huge buckets for the scuffling Eagles. Those coupled with a big Heckmann 3-pointer proved to be the difference in a seven-point win.

This game marked the final non-conference contest for Boston College. They next face the unenviable task of hosting the second-ranked and still undefeated Virginia Cavaliers Saturday. BC will try to avoid the ignominy of being held to less than 30 points by the Cavs, just as Harvard was when they were held to 27 earlier this year.

Game Notes

        • Olivier Hanlan had six turnovers against Harvard. He had just nine in his previous five games.
        • The Crimson had a six-game winning streak against the Eagles coming into the game
        • Harvard outrebounded the Eagles 39-35 including 15-6 on the offensive glass.
        • BC shot 51.9% from the field, but made just 4-of-17 (23.5%) from outside the 3-point arc and 6-of-15 (40%) at the free throw line.

Pittsburgh 73 Florida State 64

It wasn’t particularly pretty but Pittsburgh pulled away late to defeat Florida State 73-64 at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

The victory secured Jamie Dixon’s 300th win as a head coach and put the Panthers (12-4, 2-2 ACC) back at .500 in conference play.

Michael Young recorded his third career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Jones added 15 and six boards.

The story of the second half came in the form of senior walk-on Aron Phillips-Nwankwo who finished with a career-high seven points and one momentum-shifting fast break dunk. It was genuinely pleasing to see the fans rally behind him, something that college sports offers that the pros rarely can. In a world of anonymous internet hate, its nice to see people showing the love from time-to-time.

Phillips-Nwankwo had logged just five minutes all season but made the most of his 12 helping to spark a 16-3 Pitt run that opened up a lead after a close contest throughout most of the game.

Freshman Phil Cofer lead the charge for Florida State (9-8, 1-3 ACC) scoring a game-high 21 points while puling down 11 rebounds, where have you been hiding him Coach Hamilton?!. Devon Bookert added 13 points and Montay Brandon had 12, in keeping with their typical outputs.

The Panthers had a chance to close the game out sooner, but missed a handful of free throws down the stretch to allow the Seminoles to hang around. The most surprising culprit was guard James Robinson who missed four of his eight attempts at the line despite being an 88.7% free throw shooter. Inexplicable, especially at home.

The ‘Noles couldn’t capitalize however and will try to rebound Saturday at home against NC State. Pittsburgh hosts Georgia Tech Saturday before back-to-back games against top ten opponents Duke and Louisville. Pitt has had one of the easier starts to their league schedule, they will need to find more offense if they want to steal a game next week.

Game Notes

        • Pitt finished with an offensive efficiency rating of 124.1 compared to just 108.8 for the ‘Noles.
        • Pitt made 43.5% of its jump shots compared to just 27.8% for FSU.
        • Florida State blocked an impressive seven shots Wednesday. Despite its trio of seven-footers, the Seminoles rank just seventh in the ACC in blocks as a team. Sevens are wild I guess?
        • The Panthers are now 10-2 all-time against Florida State and 6-1 in Pittsburgh.

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