Although future ACC member Syracuse was able to win and likely grab onto to #1 in the next polls, the current ACC did not fare as well–splitting its 6 games on Saturday.
Actually, another future ACC member, #15 Pittsburgh, did its job with 74-68 win over 6-3 Oklahoma State. As is typical, the Panthers were outstanding defensively and on the boards. The Cowboys were held to 40.9% shooting and were outrebounded 37-23. Ashton Gibbs led Pitt with 17 points, while Lamar Patterson was a box score stuffer with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. With the win, Pitt moves to 9-1.
And #7 Duke certainly did its part, defeating a surprisingly tough Washington Huskies squad, 86-80. Although the Blue Devils opened strong with a 14-point halftime lead, Washington made it interesting late. This was particularly impressive as the Huskies had been in New York all week, starting with a Jimmy V Classic loss to Marquette. But credit Duke for starting strong and doing enough at the free throw stripe down the stretch to win. Duke had 7 players play 20 minutes, and 6 of them contributed at least 8 points. Austin Rivers led Duke with 18 points, allowing Duke to get to 9-1.
Similarly, #4 North Carolina was able to fend off upstart Long Beach State, 84-78. This one was the opposite of the Duke game, with Long Beach State controlling the first half before succumbing to the Tar Heels talent advantage in the second half. While the knee-jerk reaction is to wonder how North Carolina was not able to destroy a 4-5 team from California, recall that Long Beach State upset Pitt on the road and only narrowly lost to Kansas too. The North Carolina quartet of Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Reggie Bullock, and Tyler Zeller scored 78 of North Carolina’s 84 points. But credit Kendall Marshall too–he dished out 16 assists, the fourth time this year he has had 14 assists or more. North Carolina is now 8-2 on the season.
In a test game for Wake Forest, they lost to Seton Hall on the road, 68-54. The Demon Deacons were unable to stop Herb Pope, who scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the host Pirates. While nobody was expecting a win over 9-1 Seton Hall, this game certainly was not one where Wake Forest was going to be overmatched from a talent standpoints. Overall, Seton Hall figures to little more than a middle-of-the-pack Big East team. But that was still too much for Wake, which falls to 6-4. Wake Forest was led by Travis McKie’s 17 points.
In another ACC-Big East matchup, West Virginia handled Miami, 77-66. Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers were coming off a win over Kansas State on Thursday, but had enough in the tank to defeat the visiting Hurricanes. Truck Bryant led West Virginia with 27 points, including 5 three-pointers. Miami was led by Malcolm Grant’s 17 points. Although the early season started with great promise, the Hurricanes have now lost 4 of 5 in this very tough stretch of non-conference games. Fortunately for Jim Larranaga, the difficulty eases up a bit before conference games start.
Clemson provided the third loss for the ACC on Saturday, falling to 7-3 Arizona, 63-47 in Tucson. For the 4-4 Tigers, a trip to 7-3 Arizona was always going to be quite a test. Unfortunately, only Andre Young was able to score effectively, as he led the Tigers with 17 points. The team as a whole shot 31.7% from the field–which will never get it done.
Finally, Georgia Tech defeated Savannah State, 65-45. While the Yellow Jackets deserve credit for being willing to travel to an in-state opponent of this caliber, this was never going to be much of a contest. Brandon Reed and Daniel Miller combined to go 12 for 13 from the field, as Savannah State was simply overmatched. With the win, Georgia Tech gets to 6-4.