We are getting closer and closer to the end of the regular season, and to the start of the ACC basketball tournament. With two weeks left, there is still time and games for teams to make a move either up or down. Only two games separate the top four teams in the division. Duke (13-3) holds a one-game lead over Notre Dame (12-4). Both teams will be in action on Wednesday night with the Blue Devils on the road at Virginia (11-6). The Fighting Irish will be home to Syracuse (8-7). The bottom of the division is also seeing some movement. Georgia Tech, Clemson, and North Carolina State are all tied for last place at 4-12. Boston College is at 5-11, while Pittsburgh and Louisville are both 6-11. Important games will be played over the next 14 days for everyone. Here is some of what else is happening in the league.
Boston College picked up a huge home win vs Florida State on Monday night. The 71-55 win snapped a five-game losing streak. It was led by Jaeden Zackery who was perfect from 3-point land at 4-4 and finished with 18 points. The Eagles also got another double-double from graduate senior James Karnik with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The story of this game was BC’s ability to take possession away from the Seminoles by stealing the basketball. They would end the game with 14 steals, Zackery had five of them to lead the team. Boston College was missing a key contributor Monday night. DeMar Langford, who over his last six games is averaging 15.2 points per game, with four rebounds and two assists. Over those six games, Langford has shot at a 58% clip (37-64) from the floor. BC has two more big games this week on the road at NC State, then home to Clemson on Saturday.
Georgia Tech (4-12) is fighting to stay out of the cellar and on Monday night suffered a tough loss on the road at Syracuse. The 74-73 loss put them in a tie for the bottom of the division. The one thing the Yellow Jackets have going for them is their ability to turn their opponent over. Georgia Tech leads the league in turnovers forced against conference teams at 14.13 a game. They are also number 2 in steals per game at 8.87. Since Jan.19, a span of nine games, teams have turned the ball over vs Tech 134 times (14.9 a game), 94 of those turnovers were steals (10.4 a game). On Monday night, they were only able to collect four steals and for the game, Syracuse committed four turnovers.
The Pittsburgh Panthers (6-11) have a big home game on Tuesday night vs Miami. One player that the Panthers will need to count on is graduate forward Mouhamadou Gueye. He scored a career-high 27 points and added 12 boards in a loss to the Yellow Jackets. In a couple of games last week, Gueye averaged 19 points and 8.5 rebounds. He shot 64% (14-of-22) from the floor in those two games. Miami (11-5) has been good on the road this season where the Hurricanes are 7-2, one of just 14 division one teams to have seven true road wins, and fewer than three such losses. They are the only conference team that can make this claim.
Louisville Cardinal (6-11) graduate guard, Jarrod West, dished out career assist number 500 in a win over Clemson on Saturday. He is fourth in assist-turnover ratio at 2.41. West is also fourth in the nation in steals at 289. In Monday night’s loss at North Carolina (12-5), West was able to add five more assists to his career total, but zero steals despite the fact that the team was able to create eight steals vs the Tar Heels.
The Clemson Tigers (4-12) will look to end a six-game losing streak on Wednesday night when they host Wake Forest (11-6). For this bad stretch to end, the Tigers will need another solid game from Al-Amir Dawes, who last week had back-to-back 18 point games vs FSU and Louisville. He was especially good from 3-point land in both contests going 10-for-21 in both matchups.
The Tigers will be facing this week’s ACC Player of the Week in Wake’s Jake LaRavia, who averaged 19.5 points, 9.5 boards, and three assists against Duke and Notre Dame. In last Tuesday’s loss at Duke, LaRavia had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. In the Notre Dame game, Jake had 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in a Demon Deacon win. He is 24 points away from reaching 1,000 points for his career and he passed the 500 rebound mark on Saturday. He now has 507 career boards. This is his second weekly award this season.
The ACC Rookie of the Week is NC State’s, Terquavion Smith. In a win over the Yellow Jackets, Smith had 26 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. He shot 9-of-14 from the field, and from 3-point range was just a little better at 6-of-8. He now has an ACC-high 79 threes this season. He is two away from tying the program’s all-time mark of 81 that was set back in 2015-16. He will have the chance to tie and maybe break the record on Wednesday night when the Wolfpack take on Boston College.
That is all for this week. We will be back next week with more from the ACC.