It was Super Bowl weekend which means there was a lot of talk about the game while the rest of the sports world faded into the background. Not for us though. There was a full slate of ACC hoops action that was frankly far more exciting than the big game.
Clutch Free Throws Lift Irish to Win
A strong second half rally coupled with a few late free throws from Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia helped Notre Dame upset No. 2 North Carolina 80-76 in Chapel Hill Saturday night. On paper, Carolina won a lot of the major battles by outrebounding the Irish and shooting a better percentage from the field, but UNC turned it over 13 times and the Irish made 31-of-38 free throw attempts to edge out the Tar Heels. Notre Dame is now tied for fifth place in the ACC at 7-4 in conference play and they’ve assembled a nice resume for the postseason. For Carolina, it was an improved effort over the road loss at Louisville, but his team will have to rally to avoid fading at the end of the regular season. A road game at Boston College should help.
The Basement is Cold and Dark
It’s not a fun time if you’re a fan of Boston College or Wake Forest. BC was clobbered 79-47 Saturday by a Louisville team that had to be very emotional after learning of the school’s self-imposed postseason ban Friday. The loss drops the Eagles to 7-16 overall and 0-10 in conference play. It’s rough up there in Chestnut Hill right now, but that’s to be expected when you have 10 freshman on the roster. That’s not a typo.
Wake Forest is fading fast and it hasn’t been pretty. The Demon Deacons have lost eight straight and 10 of its last 11 games. The 20-point loss to Florida State was just the latest indignity suffered by the Deacs during this run and the Seminoles showed no mercy while scoring 91 points. All five starters scored in double digits and Devon Bookert came off the bench to join the 1,000-point club which is something that greatly pleased Renegade.
— FSU Basketball (@fsuhoops) February 2, 2016
Duke Rebounds (sort of) Against N.C. State
The Blue Devils won a hard-fought home game against the rival Wolfpack despite yet another sterling performance from State guard Cat Barber. Barber was the only player to log all 40 minutes and scored 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting with six assists. Every time Duke appeared poised to pull away, Barber would make a play down the stretch but the Blue Devils displayed the program’s typical dominance at the free throw line led by Grayson Allen’s perfect 12-for-12 at the stripe. That proved too much for Barber’s heroics despite a great rebounding effort from State. Abdul-Malik Abu scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds and the Wolfpack won the battle of the boards 38-29 once again highlighting a significant weakness of the Blue Devils. Luke Kennard is not a weakness and he came off the bench to score 26 points in 32 minutes. He drilled 6-of-11 threes and gave Duke a major boost.
The Commonwealth Closes out Close Competitors
There’s always time for some alliteration right? The games couldn’t have been more different and highlighted where the Virginia and Virginia Tech are right now as programs. No. 9 UVA notched a 64-50 win over a strong Pittsburgh team that was fairly easy as conference road wins go. With 21 points from Malcolm Brogdon and 14 from London Perrantes, the Cavaliers improved to 19-4 overall on the season and are now half a game behind Carolina and Louisville for first place in the conference. Meanwhile, the Hokies appeared to have a similar result on hand against Clemson after building a double-digit lead in the second half. Yet again, the lead evaporated after a strong rally by the Tigers but some timely free throws by Zach LeDay sealed a 60-57 Tech win down the stretch. Giving up sizable leads has become a bit of a trend for the Hokies, but a winning result beats a close loss any day.