In comparison to recent weeks, this past week in ACC Basketball was rather uneventful. Saturday, Feb. 16, was the conference’s most action-packed day, but just about every game went as expected.
No. 8 UNC manhandled Wake Forest in Winston-Salem to the tune of a 95-57 win. This was the ugliest showing in a very forgettable season for Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons, who started the game in an 18-0 hole to Roy Williams’ Tar Heels. Cameron Johnson, Cody White and Luke Maye tore up the Deacons for 47 of Carolina’s 95 points (Johnson had 27 himself). Wake Forest’s offense was anemic in this game, scoring just 21 first-half points. Freshman Jaylen Hoard did not start the game due to arriving late to the pregame shootaround, and his absence hurt the Deacons mightily. Brandon Childress had his worst game of the season, scoring zero points on 0-12 shooting to go along with six turnovers in just 20 minutes. Once Manning let Hoard into the game late in the first half, he contributed quite well, scoring 18 points on 7-9 shooting, but his efforts were too little and far too late against a talented UNC team.
The Demon Deacons were able to, surprisingly, avenge this horrible loss to UNC with a strong road win at Notre Dame on Tuesday night. Something that has haunted Wake Forest throughout Manning’s tenure as head coach has been closing out tight games in the final minutes, but that was not a problem for them in South Bend Tuesday night, as they finished the game on a 9-2 run to earn a 75-68 win. Childress backed up his worst performance of the season with arguably his best game of the year, scoring 20 points (5-7 on 3-pointers) without a turnover. Sophomore Olivier Sarr and Hoard also played well in the win, scoring 14 and 10 points, respectively. This good win against a decent Notre Dame team is something Manning’s team should try to build upon in closing out ACC play.
In following an up-and-down week, which included a loss to Duke and a win at UNC, Virginia earned two narrow victories to improve to 11-2 in ACC play. On Saturday, they defeated Notre Dame in a close 60-54 battle in Charlottesville. Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter led the way for the Cavaliers, combining for 42 of UVA’s 60 points. On Monday night, UVA visited their in-state rival Virginia Tech and earned another close 64-58 victory. Guy was fantastic again, scoring 23 points on nearly 50 percent 3-point shooting.
Louisville got back on track after a tumultuous week with a one-point victory over Clemson on Saturday. Additionally, Florida State managed to stay hot with wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson this week to improve to 9-4 in ACC play and is now ranked No. 16 nationally.
Meanwhile, with Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky over the weekend, Duke was bumped up to No. 1 nationally heading into its showdown with cross-town rival No. 8 UNC at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night. Duke is as hot as any team can be and is coming off a throttling of NC State over the weekend. It should be interesting to see how Duke’s incredible freshmen perform in their first high-pressure rivalry matchup with Carolina.