One of the more equal ACC matchups in recent memory has come to an end.
It’s disappointing in a way, for a closely contested basketball game is almost always accompanied by intrigue. And that’s exactly what a Clemson-Virginia Tech game guaranteed this season: Two grind-it-out teams who make up for a lack of talent with a excess of will. Then again, an overall lack of talent makes everything except for the final minutes a spectator sport.
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Somewhere in the midst of that back-and-forth affair, Virginia Tech scratched out a 68-63 win to advance to the second round of the ACC Tournament.
The prize? A rematch with tournament heavyweight Duke.
Green and Hudson carry the load: Without Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson, Virginia Tech would have scored 25 points against the Tigers. Think about that. That is how lost offensively this team would be without its two standout guards, who simply shouldered the burden of attacking a stout Clemson defense all night long from the perimeter.
Hudson finished with 19 points (3-for-7 on 3-pointers) and four rebounds.
And Green’s final line? 24 points (8-for-8 from the free throw line), four rebounds and four assists.
Clemson came in with the conference’s fourth-ranked defense in defensive efficiency. It left with an opening round loss. Carry the load, indeed.
Driving is a sideline story: Devin Coleman should stay behind the wheel. His body control and driving abilities provided a valuable scoring threat off the bench for Clemson, as the freshman guard scored a career-high 15 points off the bench to lead the Tigers in scoring. Coleman’s minutes increased as the season progressed under coach Brad Brownell, reportedly not receiving much playing time early on due to his inability to get it done defensively.
Well, Coleman look sufficient on that end of the floor Thursday evening, but really impressed with his strong drives and finishes in the lane. His spinning layup off the glass in traffic still has Seth Greenburg looking for bubbles.
This has been a solid day overall for freshmen in the ACC Tournament and Brownell might have something next season with Coleman and fellow freshman K.J. McDaniels.
Should Duke be worried?: Seth Greenberg’s squad has a history of pushing the right buttons at times against the Blue Devils. Even this season, the Hokies went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and gave Mike Krzyzewski all he could ask for. With a balanced scoring effort from Hudson, Green and Cadarian Raines, the Hokies took Duke to overtime before losing 70-65.
The Blue Devils will also be without Ryan Kelly.
It would seem the two teams’ last meeting was more lightning in a bottle than Virginia Tech having Duke’s number, but if the Hokies are hitting outside shots then it could get interesting.
Greenberg’s team defends well enough to keep it interesting for a while, but it’s a long shot. Hard to believe Duke will shoot 6-for-24 from the 3-point line this time around.