The annual ACC Tournament rarely disappoints and this year has been no different with top programs, Hall of Fame coaches, future NBA stars and some of the best fans in college sports. The semifinals are set, but it wasn’t easy for Virginia, North Carolina, Notre Dame or Duke (well maybe Duke) to survive and advance. Here’s a recap of yesterday’s games.
Virginia vs Florida State:
Everyone but the Seminole players and Leonard Hamilton wrote FSU off at halftime after heading into the break down 17 points. Hamilton’s squad showed lots of resilience and even cut the lead to within 5 points in the second half, but the deficit would prove to be too much for the Seminoles and #1 seeded Virginia advanced.
Final – Virginia 58, Florida State 44
Coaches’ Post-Game Quotes:
Certainly I really liked how we came out and played in the first half. I thought we were very sharp and played with a purpose defensively. Didn’t give them easy looks, rebounded well. Then offensively we had a good pace, whether at times we broke them down, but we got to the paint a lot. They’re hard to just throw it in the post because they’re big and they front. But we got the good looks. I thought Lon deposit got us going, and we got a great look from Evan. He knocked down some of those shots and looked good. In the second half there were enough plays that were made for us to be successful, but we labored. We labored offensively at times and had break downs defensively, and we had just enough. You know, we’ve got to get better in that regard. But I think guys with the foul trouble and guys being out for a little bit, we’ve got great lifts from really whoever stepped on the floor.
I think you’ve got to give University of Virginia a lot of credit. I thought they came out initially in the game. They were extremely well prepared defensively and offensively. They made us work on defense. Shot a very high percentage in the first half. I could just tell that they were mentally really engaged in the game because we dug a hole for ourselves and came back in the second half and played much better. But whenever you give a team of that caliber that working margin, obviously, you put yourself in a very difficult situation to have to overcome. So I just think that we lost to a team today that was a little bit that played extremely well, and really, really was very well prepared, somewhat rested and played with a tremendous amount of energy. I was proud of our guys that we were able to fight back. Defensively I thought we did a very good job for the majority of the second half. We had the game within a couple of possessions, and obviously they made a couple plays that really, really put us back on our heels. So I’ve just got to say congratulations to them. But I was very proud of my guys. I thought they came back in the second half and made the adjustment more mentally and emotionally as well as physically, and gave us a chance. But we came up a little short.
Louisville vs North Carolina:
Louisville and North Carolina played twice during the regular season – splitting the series with two very entertaining games and Thursday would be no different. This game was a tale of two halves. It was all Cardinals in the 1st half as the Tar Heels shot 37% from the floor compared to Louisville’s 52% percent, but all that would change in the 2nd half as Brice Johnson “manned” up to lead his squad to a win with 18 2nd half points.
Final: North Carolina 70, Louisville 60
Coaches’ Post-Game Quotes:
I’d like to introduce you to our two players, Marcus Paige is the first one, Brice Johnson is the guy that showed up in the second half. I don’t know who was out there in the first half, but Brice was there in the second half, and that was a huge part of our win. I think I told them at halftime I was about as lucky as I ever felt in my life to be down five points, because I thought we had not played as hard as they had. We were not as aggressive as they were. I didn’t think we had done a nice job of sprinting back on defense. We had turned it over on silly turnovers. Again, to just be down five, I told them, I told my staff and I told the players, that is about the luckiest I’ve ever felt. We got off to a good start in the second half. To be honest with you, I thought we shot even better than 50%, but we were able to put the ball in the basket, and then we were lucky too. I don’t mind saying that. When we went zone in the first half about either 7 or 9 possessions, I thought it was good. But we just didn’t do a very good job rebounding out of it. But played a lot of zone in the second half and they missed a lot of shots that they normally would make. But they’re a little like us. They’re challenged at points about making shots, and it worked out well for us. But really happy to still be here.
We came here to win this tournament, and we’re very disappointed we’re going home. We had our way against man to man and they switched to zone and we went cold. We had a lot of good looks; we just couldn’t put the shots down, and sometimes it’s very simple when it comes down to that. Then we did not guard their high post very well, so they deserve the victory. It was a tale of two halves, and we played very well in the first half. They switched defenses and we played very poorly in the second half. So give them a lot of credit, and we’ll just sit back and see who we play on Sunday.
Duke vs NC State:
There wasn’t much of a story here. It was ALL Duke from the beginning to end.
Final: Duke 77, NC State 53
Coaches Post-Game Quotes:
We beat a really good team tonight. I thought our guys were unbelievably ready. They played outstanding defense, and we shared the ball well. To have six guys in double figures and 14 assists and only five turnovers. It’s just an outstanding game. You play State, and they had a tough game last night against Pitt, and they played great. It’s tough to do it two nights in a row. So, yeah, we had an advantage in that respect. I’m glad that they’re going to be an NCAA team. They deserve it, and hopefully we get a lot of those teams in there.
Obviously, we’re disappointed, and this is one for us that we’ve got to quickly kind of erase from our memory. But I thought Duke was terrific today. They played sensational in the first half. They moved the ball quick. They were quicker than we were. We had a hard time defending them, and it was just one of those days where they had everything going, and we struggled to get something going. So I was proud of the fact that our guys kept battling. They battled all the way to the end. Obviously we were down in a giant hole, and. But you’ve got to give Duke credit. They’re the story today. Wasn’t us. We obviously didn’t play very well, but they played terrific basketball in the first 20 minutes, just sensational.
Notre Dame vs Miami:
If a coach needs a game to use as a teaching tool for young players about how to battle back from a seemingly impossible deficit, they need to check out how the Hurricanes stormed back in the second half. Everyone who stayed to witness the game between Notre Dame and Miami left the arena with nothing but respect for Jim Larranaga’s team. Down 18 points during halftime, Miami battled back in the second half to make it a game and even took the lead in the last three minutes. But in the end, Notre Dame hit a couple of big shots and made their free-throws – advancing to the tournament’s semi-finals.
Final: Notre Dame 70, Miami 63
Post-Game Coaches Quotes:
Well, I’m really proud of our group, because they really, we struggled against their zone, and we couldn’t get much of a rhythm after playing beautifully in the first half against their man to man. But this group all year has been really poised away from our building when there’s been a run and the other team takes the lead. We won it tonight with our defense though. Our D had to win it for us. They shot I think 36% from the floor, and I’m really proud of how we dug in and defended even though we weren’t flowing offensively. I think that’s where we’ve matured a lot.
I think Notre Dame deserves an awful lot of credit. They played an outstanding first half. I didn’t think they were ever going to miss. They really found the open man and really shot it well. We ended up playing zone for the last 25 or so minutes of the game, and we haven’t zoned, I think, since Kennedy was president. We just, we haven’t zoned, and we made the adjustment. I think our players responded to it very well. At halftime we switched zones to try to get better match ups on their threes. The guys did that. We came back very, very well. I don’t know if we ever took the lead. I know we tied it, but I think we made that a one point lead at one point in the second half, but they responded. They made their free throws. I know it ends up 19 for 27, but I think most of the free throws in the second half they made in like the last ten minutes. So they get the credit. I think my guys get the credit for not hanging their heads at halftime, and coming out and battling and not putting themselves in a position to win the game and disappointing to come up short.
The scene is officially set for an amazing semi-finals. The Tar Heels will take on #1 seeded Virginia, followed by Duke and Notre Dame. Coverage begins at 7pm on ESPN and the ACC Network.