It was an exciting weekend of ACC basketball filled with close games, incredible milestones, and nearly the biggest upset of the season. The ACC has continued to look like one of the strongest conferences with six teams in the AP Top 25 including #2 Virginia Cavaliers, #4 Duke Blue Devils, #8 Notre Dame FIghting Irish, #10 Louisville Cardinals, #13 North Carolina Tar Heels, and #23 Miami Hurricanes.
The weekend of action kicked off with three very competitive games on Saturday.
#13 North Carolina (16-4, 6-1) was able to hold off a very inspired effort from Florida State (10-10, 2-5) who have had a disappointing season so far. Florida State hung with the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome step-for-step throughout the game largely in part to a heroic performance from Freshman phenom guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes who lit up the scoreboard for 35 points. However, the Tar Heels' balanced attack was too much for the Seminoles to handle in the end led by Junior forward Brice Johnson who had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Junior guard Marcus Paige who added 19 points. The final score was 78-74 and the Tar Heels continued their hot streak, winning 10 of their last 11 games.
#23 Miami continued their winning ways, surviving a nail biter at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse and their vaunted 2-3 zone. Miami was able to hit 10-29 three-pointers to defeat the zone, and held off a furious comeback effort and the last few minutes of the game to win 66-62. It also helped that Syracuse shot just two for six from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds making the deficit too big to overcome. Junior Center Tonye Jekiri dominated the paint scoring 13 points and grabbing 15 boards to set the tone for the Hurricanes. Senior forward Rakeem Christmas contributed 23 points for the Orangemen in the losing effort.
A battle of two of the bottom tier teams in the ACC ended up being a nail-biter. Clemson (11-8, 3-4) outlasted Wake Forest (9-11, 1-6) 59-57, thanks to a buzzer-beating putback by Junior center Josh Smith. Juinor forward Devin Thomas contributed 17 points and 12 rebounds for Wake Forest in the loss.
Sunday was another day filled with ACC basketball action.
Two winless conference teams faced off as Boston College (9-9, 1-5) traveled to Georgia Tech (9-10, 0-7). Boston College was able to edge the Yellow Jackets by a score of 64-62 to grab their first win in the conference. Junior guard Olivier Hanlan exploded for 25 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Eagles to victory.
Duke played a non-conference game against St. Johns that would eventually mark a huge milestone for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke defeated St. Johns 77-68, overcoming a 10-point deficit in the second half to give Coach K his 1,000th win. Coach K is the first coach to reach this milestone. Freshman guard Tyus Jones led the Blue Devils with 22 points in the victory. Duke faces off with #2 Virginia on Saturday in a huge College Gameday matchup.
The Virginia Cavaliers might have been looking ahead to their top five matchup with Duke as they were caught off guard by the spirited Hokies and Coach Buzz Williams. The Hokies, playing without their leading scorer Justin Bibbs (concussion) stuck with the Cavaliers the entire game and led for most of the second half. With the Cavaliers down 43-33, Junior guard Justin Anderson of Virginia once again proved he is one of the most clutch players in the country. He hit two three pointers and finished an alley-oop dunk to tie the game; and then hit another three to put the Cavaliers up 48-45. It was a heartbreaking end for the Hokies as their upset attempt fell just short, as junior guard Adam Smith's three spun out as time expired giving the Wahoos a 50-47 victory to remain undefeated.