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It won’t be long now before the halfway mark of the Atlantic Coast Conference season is upon us. There is good news to report, no games have been added to the virus list. For the first time since the league schedule began, all games that were supposed to be played were played last week. No doubt a sigh of relief for everyone associated with the league. Let’s see what else is going on in the ACC.

If it is January that must mean it’s time for the Duke Blue Devils to start playing some ball. The Blue Devils (14-3, 4-2) were making their move in both the polls and in the league. On the national scene, Duke moved up to #6 in the AP Top-25 poll, and in the USA Top-25 poll they are at #5. The Blue Devils are starting to turn up the heat on the defensive end. Since the calendar turned to 2022, Duke’s defense has gotten better. They are holding their opponents to 24% shooting from the 3-point line (17-71). This is the second-best percentage defense by a power five team this month and the 10th best in the country. But after the Blue Devils’ huge 79-78 loss to Florida St, they now find themselves looking to drop in the rankings. They have dropped to third in the ACC after the loss.

North Carolina (12-5, 4-2) is getting a terrific season from Amando Bacot. He is tied for second in the nation in double-doubles with 12. Bacot who is averaging 17.4 points and 11.3 boards a game is one of only three power conference players to be averaging a double-double. His rebounding numbers rank him fifth in the nation, he is also sixth in field goal percentage at 64%. Bacot along with Arkansas State’s Norchad Omier are the only players in the country in the top six in those three categories. He was also named ACC Player of the Week for the second week in a row. In the Tar Heels 88-65 win over Georgia Tech, Bacot tied his career-high with 29 points and 12 boards. Not only did he record his seventh straight double-doubles, but he is also the first UNC player since Charlie Scott back in 1970 to have at least 29 and 12 in consecutive games and the fourth to pull this off.

The Boston College Eagles (7-9, 2-4) had themselves a comeback for the ages last Saturday at Clemson. Down by 23 points to the Tigers, BC rallied to win the game, 70-68. It matched the largest deficit comeback in division one this year while tying for the largest comeback win in the conference in ten years (Duke over Louisville in 2019). The Eagles are second in the league in both offensive rebounding per game (11.07) and in defensive rebounding percentage (.770).

The Pittsburgh Panthers (7-11, 2-5 ) have taken advantage of getting fouls so far this season. They are second in the country in free-throw attempts (399) and are 10th in free throws made (271)  Center John Hugley is tied for the most free throws attempted at 133 and is third in makes with 96. Graduate student Mouhamadou Gueye had 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocked shots in last Saturday’s 65-53 win over Louisville at home. He knocked down two 3-pointers in the game to add to his team lead (19). He is the only player in the league to lead his team in both 3-pointers and blocked shots.

Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim has been logging a ton of minutes for the Orange this season. Last week he would play the full 40 minutes in both games Syracuse played. In those games in which the Orange went 1-1, a win over Pittsburgh 77-61, and a loss to Florida State 76-71, Boeheim averaged 21 points and shot 50% from the field (13-26). That included 7-for-14 from 3-point range and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. Boeheim is leading the ACC in minutes played averaging 38 minutes a night.

The ACC Rookie of the Week is Duke’s Paulo Banchero who averaged 22.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and shot 56% in wins over both Wake Forest and North Carolina State. In the win at Wake, Paulo scored 23 points on 11-of-23 shooting, and in the win over the Wolfpack, he went for 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. So far this season, Banchero has seven 20-point games to his credit which leads all major conference true freshmen.

Next week we will be back with more from the ACC.

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