McDaniels, Clemson gets by Wake Forest 61-53
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels and his teammates took it a bit personally when the Tigers were picked to finish next-to-last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
After Saturday's 61-53 win over Wake Forest, Clemson (13-4, 4-1 ACC) is tied for second in the league and is ready for another week of confounding their critics.
"We came back from ACC media day and we had the paper in our hand. We saw we were 14th. I laughed. To prove those people wrong is a good feeling," McDaniels said,
McDaniels scored 15 points and had a career-best 12 rebounds as the Tigers at 4-1 are off to their best start in the ACC since winning their first five league games in 1997_the last time Clemson went to the Sweet 16.
This week had all the potential for a letdown after Clemson beat Duke by 13. But the Tigers beat Virginia Tech and Wake Forest through their nation-leading defense. The Demon Deacons (12-6, 2-3) shot just 36.2 percent (21 of 58) on Saturday, matching Clemson's field goal defense for the season exactly. Wake Forest's 53 points almost matched the Division I leading 53.6 points a game Clemson came in allowing.
"I'm proud of the way our guys approached both games this week," Tigers coach Brad Brownell said. "We didn't play great all the time, but we played hard. We compete to our style. We compete to what we're trying to do and it has put us in the position to win some games."
Brownell wasn't pleased with the predictions about his team either. But he understood. With Saturday's win, Clemson matched its win total for all of last season with two months still to go.
"There's a lot of question marks. We didn't have a lot of guys coming back who were proven players. There's no guarantee K.J. is going to play as well as he's played," Brownell said.
Things get tougher quickly for Clemson, who plays five of its next six games on the road. First up is No. 22 Pittsburgh, then North Carolina, where the Tigers have never beaten the Tar Heels in 56 games at Chapel Hill.
"We've got a lot of rough games," Brownell said.
Coron Williams led the Demon Deacons with 13 points, while Tyler Cavanaugh scored 12 points and Arnaud-William Adala Moto added 10. Wake Forest is now 1-27 on the road in the ACC under fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.
Wake Forest hung around for most of the game. Clemson never got its lead into double-digits, but also never trailed in the final 17 minutes. The Tigers shot 14 of 23 in the second half and 20 of 43 (46.5 percent) for the game.
"For three-quarters of the game, we defended pretty good too," Bzdelik said.
But the stretch where Wake Forest's defense failed came after a pair of free throws by Tyler Cavanaugh that put the Demon Deacons up 32-30 with 17:27 to go. McDaniels saved a rebound from going out of bounds and went back to Jaron Blossomgame for a layup. Wake Forest turned it over and Jordan Roper hit a 3-pointer. Clemson forced two misses on inside shots and McDaniels had a put back to give the Tigers a 37-32 lead with 16 minutes to go.
Clemson also made 18 of 21 free throws and blocked 10 shots.
"That's what really makes their defense - their ability to protect the rim," Bzdelik said.
Roper scored 11 points and Landry Nnoko added eight points for Clemson.
Like just about every team that has faced Clemson this year, the Deacons struggled to get any kind of shot. On one possession, Wake Forest got Clemson off balance with several quick passes and it looked like Codi Miller-McIntyre had an easy layup after getting two Tigers in the air with a shot fake. But Nnoko made it over to block the shot. The Demon Deacons scrambled to the loose ball and Miller-McIntyre looked open briefly for a 3, but Clemson flew over to rush the shot, which ended as an airball.
Clemson's offense headed up the court with another boost from its suffocating defense.
"The defense starts the offense for us," McDaniels said. "We gain energy from our defense."
No. 23 Duke Beats NC State 95-60
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Jabari Parker scored 23 points and No. 23 Duke scored 33 points off turnovers to beat North Carolina State 95-60 on Saturday.
Rasheed Sulaimon added 13 points for the Blue Devils (14-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who led by 13 at halftime and by 37 afterward to keep the Wolfpack winless at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995.
Duke shot 50 percent and went 11 for 24 from 3-point range.
T.J. Warren scored 23 points to lead N.C. State (11-7, 1-4), which shot 48 percent but committed 21 turnovers to undermine any chance at building momentum.
Fifteen of those turnovers came by halftime, with Duke taking a 23-2 edge in points off turnovers to build a 45-32 lead. Things only got worse from there for N.C. State, which hasn't beaten Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski at Cameron - the 1995 win came while Krzyzewski was on medical leave - since February 1988.
It was Krzyzewski's 200th career ACC win at Cameron and his 898th overall at Duke, putting the NCAA men's career coaching wins leader two shy of joining Syracuse's Jim Boeheim with at least 900 wins at one school.
It also came with former President George H.W. Bush in attendance, with the Bush-founded CEO Roundtable on Cancer saying Bush was on hand to recognize Krzyzewski for his "personal commitment and leadership" in work to fight cancer.
Duke started the week by falling to its lowest ranking since the last time it fell out of the AP Top 25 in February 2007, then needed Sulaimon to make a 3 that bounced high off the rim and dropped through the net in the final minute to hold off Virginia 69-65 here Monday night.
The Blue Devils had no such drama Saturday, easily handling an N.C. State team that didn't have any player reach double figures to support Warren - the ACC's leading scorer at 22 points per game.
N.C. State had a big win at Notre Dame - which came three days after Duke's loss in South Bend - to build some confidence after a home loss to Pittsburgh in its league opener. But the Wolfpack followed that with a 31-point home loss to Virginia last weekend then lost 70-69 on a last-second basket at Wake Forest on Wednesday night.
Now, with a third straight loss, Mark Gottfried's team heads into a three-game ACC homestand in desperate need of a win.
Miami shuts down Georgia Tech 56-42
ATLANTA (AP) - Freshman point guard Manu Lecomte seems to be maturing at just the right time for Miami.
"You need a guy like that to handle the ball, who won't make mistakes and runs the team," teammate Rion Brown said. "He's getting better and better each game."
Lecomte scored a career-high 16 points, Donnavan Kirk added 14 points and Miami used its tight zone defense to beat Georgia Tech 56-42 on Saturday.
The Hurricanes (10-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) showed why they rank ninth in the nation in average points allowed, causing Georgia Tech to miss 27 of its first 35 shots from the field.
Miami gave the Yellow Jackets hardly any room to dribble inside the perimeter. Those few times that Georgia Tech managed to get through, the Hurricanes often stripped the ball away or grabbed a defensive rebound.
Trae Golden, despite missing six of seven 3-point attempts, finished with 12 points for the Yellow Jackets (10-8, 1-4), who used an eight-man rotation following injuries or sickness suffered by Robert Carter Jr., Jason Morris and Solomon Poole.
"We have some guys who haven't shot the ball as well as obviously we would like," Jackets coach Brian Gregory said. "It's kind of a double-edged sword. They're hard to score on - they've proven that - and when you have open shots, you have to make them."
The Hurricanes never trailed after Lecomte's layup made it 7-5 early in the first, taking their first double-digit lead on a pair of free throws by Lemonte with 3 seconds left before intermission.
Brown had 12 points for Miami, which finished with just four assists as most of the Hurricanes' baskets came off the dribble.
Georgia Tech, which began the game with the nation's 11th-worst shooting percentage on 3-point attempts, finished 4 for 20 beyond the arc.
And Chris Bolden sank further into his season-long slump. The starting sophomore guard went 0 for 5 on 3s and is now shooting just 25 percent on 52 attempts.
"We've got to shoot the ball better," Gregory said. "We've got to move the ball better and just keep plugging away.
Miami took charge of the momentum with an 8-0 run to end the first half. By the early minutes of the second half, the Hurricanes had outscored Georgia Tech 16-4 in the paint.
Lecomte and Brown hit straightaway treys that helped push the lead to 37-19 during that stretch, but it seemed strange that Miami won despite three assists from Lecomte, one from Garrius Adams and none from anyone else.
"I was really surprised about that," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "It ended up coming down to that Manu's baskets came off the dribble, Donnavan Kirk's baskets came off the dribble, and those are the guys who did all the scoring - them and Rion Brown."
Georgia Tech shot 29.5 percent, marking just the fifth time since 1964-65 that the Jackets had such a poor performance from the field.
Though Miami has held opponents to 60 points or less in 10 straight games, Lecomte said that Larranaga is still far from satisfied with the team's zone defense. Larranaga, who installed the scheme before the season, used mostly man-to-man defenses during his first 29 years as a head coach.
But for a freshman like Lecomte, who last year was in high school as Larranaga led the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 in his first season at Miami, there hasn't been much of an adjustment.
The message is the same.
"Every day at practice, he is always telling us that we've got to get better on defense," Lecomte said. "I think we played good tonight."
UNC Beats BC 82-71, Avoids 1st 0-4 Start In ACC
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Marcus Paige scored 21 points and North Carolina beat Boston College 82-71 on Saturday for its first ACC victory of the season.
James Michael McAdoo added 17 points for the Tar Heels (11-6, 1-3).
They shot nearly 53 percent in their highest-scoring ACC game of the season and avoided the first 0-4 start to conference play in the program's proud history.
Olivier Hanlan scored 16 points and Lonnie Jackson added 14 for Boston College (5-13, 1-4), which replaced North Carolina in the league cellar.
The Eagles hit 11 3-pointers but committed too many of their 18 turnovers at inopportune times, leading to their sixth loss in seven games.
BC pulled to 56-55 with 10 minutes remaining on Hanlan's driving layup. But on their next nine trips downcourt, the Eagles managed just one basket and turned it over four times while allowing the Tar Heels to push their lead back into double figures.
Paige converted a key three-point play one possession before Leslie McDonald's 3-pointer - with Joe Rahon's hand in his face - put North Carolina up 71-61 with 4½ minutes left.
J.P. Tokoto finished with 14 points and McDonald and freshman Kennedy Meeks each added 10 for North Carolina, which had lost its first three ACC games for just the second time in school history and first since Dean Smith's final season in 1996-97 - a slide that knocked the Tar Heels from the Top 25 to the bottom of the league.
Many of the things that went wrong for them in those games went right in this one. In none of their other ACC matchups had they cracked the 70-point mark, shot better than 40 percent or forced more than 13 turnovers.
They were coming off a 45-point effort at No. 2 Syracuse - their fewest in coach Roy Williams' 11 seasons at his alma mater - and needed fewer than 25 minutes of game action against BC to match that production.
Rahon finished with 13 points, Eddie Odio had 12 and Ryan Anderson added 11 with 12 rebounds for Boston College, which fell to 1-6 on the road this season and was denied its first victory at the Smith Center since 2009.
Paige scored 14 points and McAdoo had 11 during a first half in which North Carolina briefly pushed its lead into double figures. The suddenly efficient Tar Heels scored on nine of 10 possessions during a 5-minute stretch and led 22-11 on Paige's drive.
BC hit six 3-pointers during the half, including two during the 11-2 run that tightened the game right back up. Odio's 3 pulled the Eagles to 24-22 and another one from Jackson made it a one-point game with 4½ minutes left.
BC never could manage to tie it, though the Eagles kept UNC within striking distance until the Tar Heels pulled away late.
No. 2 Syracuse holds off No. 22 Pitt 59-54
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Put this in the scouting report on Syracuse's Tyler Ennis: He can score, too.
Ennis, the freshman point guard who would rather pass than shoot, scored 16 points, including two driving layups and two free throws in the final 2 minutes, and the second-ranked Orange rallied past No. 22 Pittsburgh 59-54 on Saturday in a battle for first place in the ACC between the two former Big East rivals.
Syracuse (18-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell behind 52-49 with 4:31 to go on two free throws by Lamar Patterson, who had rallied the Panthers from a 10-point deficit.
Ennis hit a scooping layup to give Syracuse a 53-52 lead with 1:47 left and the Orange held it to the end.
"I pretty much had to make a play," said Ennis, who had three assists with one turnover. "I think they broke down defensively. They don't usually do that too often. I didn't even get to the basket all the way the whole game. Luckily, I did at the end."
In a seesaw game that was tight all the way, Ennis took advantage again of his driving ability after Patterson and Cameron Wright missed 3-pointers on the same possession with just over a minute to go. Encouraged by coach Jim Boeheim to take more shots, Ennis hit a lefty layup with 30.6 seconds to go as the crowd of 30,046 shook the Carrier Dome with deafening roars.
"He made some of the best plays that I've seen in a long time," Boeheim said. "You don't get to the basket against Pittsburgh for two layups. He won the game for us down the stretch. We opened it up and we like to give him the opportunity in those situations. We were trying to give him an opportunity so he could get to the basket, and he has a knack for doing it that's just about as good as anybody I've ever seen."
Syracuse entered the game 2-0 against former Big East rivals, with victories over St. John's and Villanova. The Orange made it three straight and remained one of only three unbeatens in Division I.
"That's what it comes down to - finishing and stopping them," said Patterson, who missed what would have been a game-tying 3 with 5 seconds left. "We win the game if we do."
In four of the past five seasons, Syracuse has started with at least 13 consecutive wins, and twice in the last four years Pitt (16-2, 4-1) had stopped those streaks.
Pitt shot 38.3 percent (18 of 47) and Syracuse finished at 51.2 percent (21 of 41) in a very efficient game offensively. The Panthers dominated the offensive glass 16-4, outscoring the Orange 19-2 on second-chance points, but they missed a lot of chances underneath and paid for it in the end.
"We got a couple of good shots," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We just didn't make them. We need to finish better around the basket. They're good, but we felt we should have won the game."
C.J. Fair had 13 points, Jerami Grant added 12 and Rakeem Christmas 10 for Syracuse.
James Robinson, who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, had six points, four assists and one turnover for Pitt and Talib Zanna finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
In an 81-74 victory at Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, Pitt won by dominating the glass 38-18. It was the Panthers' closest victory of the season, the first 15 coming by an average of 17.8 points.
Syracuse, accustomed to close games all season, led by four at halftime and quickly extended it early in the second half.
Grant's one-handed floater in the lane capped a 7-0 spurt and a 3 by Ennis from the left wing gave Syracuse a 37-27 lead with 14:27 left.
Pitt erased most of that in a hurry as Patterson drained three 3-pointers in a 65-second span to narrow the lead to 39-36. He hit two from the wing and on the third he was wide open from the top of the key as Boeheim fumed on the bench.
The Panthers entered the game leading the ACC with a 48.8 field goal shooting percentage but found little room to roam inside the Syracuse zone. Pitt shot 37 percent (9 of 25) and hit just 1 of 7 3-pointers in the first half.
It was Pitt's second game without sixth man Durand Johnson, who sustained a season-ending injury to his right knee in last Saturday's victory over Wake Forest. The sophomore forward was blossoming as the first man off the bench, averaging 8.8 points and ranking second on the team with 22 3-pointers.
In 2009-10, Syracuse won its first 13 games, then lost 82-72 to unranked Pitt in the Carrier Dome. The next season Syracuse won its first 18 games before the Panthers stopped that streak with a 74-66 win in Pittsburgh. Under Dixon, Pitt entered the game 10-4 against Syracuse, 5-1 in the Carrier Dome.
Harris Leads Virginia Past Florida State, 78-66
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Joe Harris and Virginia didn't let a disappointment at Duke knock them off their rhythm.
Harris scored 18 points, Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 and the Cavaliers used an early 22-5 run to take command on their way to a 78-66 victory against Florida State on Saturday, claiming a sweep of its season series against the Seminoles.
"I think we have a bunch of guys on our team that are starting to buy in and buy into their roles," Brogdon said after a game in which he also had six assists, four steals and four rebounds in 33 minutes. "We believe in coach (Tony) Bennett and he believes in us. He allows his players a lot of freedom and allows us to play up to our abilities."
The Cavaliers (13-5, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won 62-50 at Florida State on Jan. 4, led 45-26 at halftime after closing with an 11-3 run. The sweep is the first for the Cavaliers against the Seminoles since the 2000-01 season.
Since a 35-point loss at Tennessee on Dec. 30, the Cavaliers have won four of five, including the road victory at Florida State and another at North Carolina State, giving them their best start in ACC play since the 1994-95 season. Their only loss in that stretch came by 69-65 at Duke on Monday night, a game Virginia actually led just one time, but in the final minute.
Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton sounded glad to be done with the Cavaliers in the regular season.
"The closeness of the score does not really indicate how really well they played the game," he said, adding that Virginia's 49.1 shooting percentage was more a reflection of their effectiveness than a sign of shoddy defense. "We just could not seem to disrupt them. They were on point and they weren't going to allow us to get them out of rhythm."
Okaro White and Aaron Thomas scored 15 each for Florida State (12-5, 3-2). The Seminoles arrived second in the ACC defensively, allowing teams to make just 36.3 percent of their field goal attempts, but the Cavaliers shot better than 55 percent in the first half in bolting to 45-26 lead by halftime. The attempted six 3-pointers in the half, and made five.
The Seminoles trailed by as many as 21 in the second half, and got no closer than 12, including in the final minute when Virginia's Justin Anderson was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk. During some brief confusion on the court, words were exchanged, and the Cavaliers' Darion Atkins and Teven Jones were ejected for leaving the bench.
After the game, as the teams lined up to shake hands, words were exchanged again and the teams came together again, but coaches seemed to control the situation and the teams went to their locker rooms without incident.
"I think when you beat a team twice, there's going to be anger that results and there's going to be frustration just like with anybody," Brogdon said, dismissing the incident as meaningless. "I think that's what happened."
Bennett said it is his understanding that Jones and Atkins will not be penalized further.
Virginia used the same blueprint in the rematch as it had in Tallahassee, but this time had the benefit of having Harris in the lineup. In Florida, Harris sustained a concussion after just two minutes on the court and watched the rest of the game.
This time, he had 10 points by halftime and finished the game 6-for-8 with four 3-pointers in five attempts.
After an opening 3-pointer by Devon Bookert for the Seminoles, Virginia scored 22 of the next 27 points. Brogdon had eight and the Seminoles turned the ball over at least three times and went more than six minutes between their first field goal and second.
The Seminoles also turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 26 points for the Cavaliers.