ACC Sunday: NC State, Duke win at home.
NC State came through with a desperately needed 76-68 win over Georgia Tech, while Duke took care of UVA 80-66.
Despite shooting under 40% for the game, NC State pretty much controlled play the entire night. Freshman Andrew Brackman helped the Pack get off to a quick start, and the Wolfpack led 37-27 at halftime. The Jackets made a late second half run to cut the NCSU lead to 64-61, but Ilian Evtimov nailed a crucial three-pointer and the rest of the team helped to salt it away by hitting their free throws. Julius Hodge, who had been struggling at the line this season, hit 12-14 FTs for the game, including twelve straight. It looked to me like he had modified his stroke, and it looked much smoother (similar to what it looked like in years past).
I continue to be impressed by Andrew Brackman, who displays a lot of intelligence for a freshman. He hit some three pointers, he made some tough shots in the paint, and he blocked several shots at the defensive end. I also have to give credit to Gavin Grant, who came off the bench for perhaps his best performance of the season (he's a freshman as well).
With Tony Bethel and Levi Watkins sidelined by illness, the Wolfpack went just seven deep. The lost depth didn't seem to be a detriment to the team, though. I am really liking NCSU's current starting lineup:
Unfortunately for Jordan Collins, it seems as though Brackman and Evtimov are taking his minutes. Collins, who has started a lot of games this season, played just 10 minutes off the bench against Georgia Tech and did not score. With the way Evtimov and Brackman are playing, they're going to continue to start.
Next up for NC State: @ Virginia Tech
Virginia's struggles continue--they're 0-4 in the ACC after losing to the Dukies. They hung tough with the Devils for the first half or so and then started to fade. I was mighty skeptical of Virginia's good start to the season, and it is looking more and more like the Cavs aren't going to contend for an NCAA bid. I hope Pete Gillen enjoyed that stay in the top-25 while it lasted.
Duke got Shav Randolph back and improved to 13-0, but Daniel Ewing had to be carried off the court at one point thanks to injury. He later returned. I'm still anxious to find out how good the Devils actually are--I have a sneaking suspicion that they aren't going to be able to keep up with North Carolina or Wake Forest.
Next up for Duke: @ Miami (FL)
On another note--how impressive is Boston College? With a win at UConn already in their pockets, the Eagles kicked the crap out of West Virginia in Morgantown. That makes three losses for the Mountaineers in the four games since they beat NC State (ugh). It's impossible not to be impressed with what Al Skinner has done at BC. These guys--if they aren't in the midst of peaking early--look like a good bet for a deep NCAA tournament run.