Photo courtesy of University of Miami Athletics.
By David Cordova
One of the biggest tournaments in college basketball, the Atlantic Coast Conference, or the ACC as it is commonly referred to is in Brooklyn this week and it is in full swing. Teams throughout the conference are coming to the Barclays Center ready for battle.
In the first session of the second round of today’s games, Miami (21-10, 10-8 in ACC play) would go up against Syracuse (18-14, 10-8 in ACC play), both unranked teams that were tough and had beaten some tough competition along the way. One team would stick to its mission in this game and go on to advance to the next round. Then in the following game, Duke (24-8, 11-7 in ACC play), ranked No. 14 in the country would withstand a tough attack from the unranked Clemson (17-15, 6-12 in ACC play).
If there is one thing that should be looked at from the first two games of the day, it should be that all of the teams that played today were grinding it out for two major goals, an ACC title and the chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament, but to get there, they would have to win first in the second round.
Miami 62, Syracuse 57
In the first couple of minutes in the game, Syracuse played smart and threw the ball inside to Taurean Thompson, as he scored two consecutive baskets to give the Orangemen a 4-0 lead, with 18:09 to go. But then Miami would go on a run of their own take a 12-9 lead, with 14:14 to go, anchored by seven early points by Davon Reed.
Due to their efficient ball movement and great shot selection, the Hurricanes brought their lead up to eight, 19-11, with 11:32 left after a jumper by Ja’Quan Newton. But then the Orangemen would not stay down for long as Tyus Battle would score six consecutive points to tie the score at 19-19, with 9:49 to go.
The Hurricanes could not be contained from the outside as they were 50% from three-point range throughout the first half, and ended up with an eight-point lead, 29-21, with 5:12 to go in the half. But the Orangemen would stay on their heels, as a three-pointer by Andrew White III would bring the to within five, 29-24, with 4:34 left.
Although the Orangemen would stay in the game, the Hurricanes would continue to dominate on the boards and exploit their zone defense with their long-range jumpshots, which would contribute to them leading 36-28 at halftime. The Hurricanes shot 61.9% from the field, while the Orangemen would shoot 52.4% from the field.
The start of the second half showed how much fight the Orangement still had in them, as they went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to two, 38-36, with 15:26 left, after a layup by Tyler Roberson. They would finally take the lead on a three-pointer by Battle, 41-40, with 12:23 to go.
Miami would then counter with a 5-0 run to take back the lead, 46-41, with 10:44 to go after a three-pointer by Dejan Vasiljevic. They would continue to build on their momentum as Reed hit a three-pointer with 7:09 left to bring them up seven, 51-44.
But then Syracuse would cut the deficit to three, 51-48, with two free throws from White with 5:39 to go. Then moments later, White would hit a jumper to bring them within one, 53-52, with 4:08 to go. Then with the game winding down, John Gillon would hit a three-pointer with 41 seconds left to bring the Orangemen within two, 57-55. Newton would counter with a layup to bring the Hurricanes with 18 seconds left to bring them up four, 59-55. But then the Orangemen would answer with a Tyler Lydon dunk with 13 seconds left to cut the deficit to two, 59-57.
Reed would be fouled and would make one of two free throws, with 7.7 seconds to go to bring the Hurricanes ahead, 60-57. Gillon would try to make a three for Syracuse, but then Bruce Brown would be fouled and made two free throws to put the game away as the Hurricanes would advance to the quarterfinals against the No. 1-seeded North Carolina.
Murphy led Miami with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Reed would add 14 points and Vasiljevic would add 13 points. For Syracuse, White added 22 points and five rebounds and Battle added 14 points in the loss.
Duke 79, Clemson 72
From the opening tip, Duke was in attack mode, running off to a 7-1 lead, with 17:37 left after a three pointer by Luke Kennard. But then Clemson would step up their play and get to within 11-7, with 14:15 to go.
As the first half went on, both teams would match basket for basket and would battle for possession in each moment the other team had the ball. Jaron Blossomgame made two consecutive baskets to bring the Tigers within one, 16-15, with 9:12 left.
A crucial moment would transpire with 4:55 left when the Blue Devils’ Grayson Allen would catch a technical for slamming the ball on the floor, which would give the Tigers the opportunity to capitalize on the outcome by making four straight free throws to take the lead, 23-22. Moments later, they would end up leading by four, 29-25, with 3:06 left after two free throws by Marcquise Reed.
Duke would then come back and tie the score at 29-29 with 2:16 left after baskets by Matt Jones and Jayson Tatum. Clemson then came back and would make it 33-29, with 1:29 left in the first half, after a three-pointer by Shelton Mitchell. The Blue Devils would once again tie the score at 33-33, with 26 seconds left after layups by Tatum and Frank Jackson. That would end up being the halftime score, as both teams went into intermission tied. Duke would shoot 44.8% from the field and Clemson, although they threatened throughout the half, would shoot 36.4%.
The second half brought a lot of energy on both ends of the court, but Kennard made sure the Blue Devils were ahead by hitting two three-pointers to bring them up three, 38-35, with 18:44 left. They would then apply pressure defense and go on a 6-2 run to bring their lead up to seven, 44-37, with 16:23 to go, after a layup by Jackson.
Duke would then raise their lead to twelve, 49-37, with 14:30 to go, but then Clemson would then make a comeback, cutting that deficit in half to seven, 49-42, with 13:37 to go. Their inside play, as well as their defense would take a toll on Clemson, as they would once again assert control of the game, leading by thirteen, 60-47, with 9:07 to go after a three-pointer by Jackson.
Later on in the half, Clemson continued to threaten and get to within six, 69-63, with 3:56 to go after a layup by Elijah Thomas. Moments later, Reed would then complete a three-point play with 2:51 to go to within one, 69-68. But then Duke would counter with clutch free throws by Jackson, which helped them lead, 73-68, with 1:51 left. But the Tigers would not be down as with Blossomgame with dunk for Clemson to help cut the deficit to three, 75-72, with 36 seconds left. But four consecutive free throws by Tatum would put the game away for the Blue Devils as they would advance to the quarterfinals to play the No. 4 seeded Louisville.
Tatum, Jackson and Kennard all led Duke with 20 points and Amile Jefferson added 11 points. For Clemson, Blossomgame led with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Mitchell added 17 points and Reed would contribute 13 points in the loss.