ACC High 5: Top Performances of the Weekend — Feb. 15-16
The Five Best Performances in the ACC (Feb. 15-16)
What a weekend of ACC college basketball. While the Big 10, Pac-12 and even the AAC are seemingly getting more run than the ACC when it comes to national conversation, the ACC is producing excellent games and close finishes week after week and this past weekend was no different. It included No. 1 Syracuse narrowly avoiding an upset at the hands of N.C. State to remain unbeaten. Virginia pulled away from a determined Clemson team late to stay on Syracuse's heels. And speaking of heels, North Carolina continued its resurgence with a solid win over a suddenly fading Pittsburgh club. There was even a notable game at the bottom of the ACC standings, where Virginia Tech snapped a 10-game conference losing streak by beating Miami to improve to 2-10 in the league. The Hokies' other win was over the Hurricanes too.
Not surprisingly, all these games produced many excellent performances. And as usual, there were more excellent performances than can be ranked here. Making the honorable mention category this week is Duke's Jabari Parker. Parker could really be in the top five every week, and his 23 points and eight rebounds vs. Maryland were no slouch. But there might have been another Duke player key to the Blue Devils' two-point win that made the list this week. Also earning honorable mentions were Clemson's K.J. McDaniels (24 points in the Tigers' loss to UVA), Dez Wells of Maryland, who scored 17 second-half points to lead the Terrapins to their near upset win at Duke, and Virginia Tech guard Devin Wilson, who in a game where the Hokies only scored 52 points, had 12 points and nine assists.
If all those players didn't make the list, who did? Here are the top five performances of the ACC weekend from Feb. 15-16.
Ed Morgans is an ACC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @writered21.
5. The Entire Virginia Tech Hokies' Defense
For the first time, an award in the weekly top five goes to an entire unit. But Virginia Tech earned this. Having lost 10-straight games and with nothing left to really play for this season, the Hokies' defense held Miami to 26 percent shooting from the field (15-for-58), including a mere 7-for-34 from three-point range. Tech wasn't much better, but when you only score 52 points, you need a massive defensive effort to win and the Hokies delivered it.
4. Amile Jefferson, Duke Blue Devils
While this list usually is home for Duke's Jabari Parker, it's his teammate Amile Jefferson who gets an honor this week. Jefferson only scored seven points, but he hit a key late free throw and grabbed 12 rebounds, allowing the Blue Devils to hold off Maryland by two points. Even with Jefferson, Duke lost the rebounding battle 43-36. Without him, the Blue Devils would have been crushed on the boards and surely would have lost.
3. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina wasn't going to improve until James Michael McAdoo consistently played like the best player on the Tar Heels, which he is. It's no surprise that with McAdoo in his best form the Tar Heels are suddenly surging up the standings in the conference. McAdoo had 24 points and 12 rebounds in North Carolina's home win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
2. Aaron Thomas, Florida State Seminoles
His team may be struggling, but Aaron Thomas is proving himself to be one of the most dangerous guards in the ACC. In Saturday's win over Wake Forest, Thomas not only scored 19 points, but led his team with 14 rebounds! Few guards even sniff a double-double involving points and rebounds, but to pull down 14 boards is seriously impressive.
1. Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse Orange
Yes, North Carolina State, there is a Rakeem Christmas, and he had the best performance in the ACC over the weekend. In a surprisingly difficult one-point win, the undefeated Orange again did what they have done all season long -- find a way, any way, late in the game to win. Christmas was a big reason why Syracuse was able to pull the game out, scoring 14 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking seven shots. The 6-foot-9 junior from Philadelphia set season highs for rebounds and blocks, and was only one point off his season-high for scoring.