The independent news organization of Duke University

Around the ACC: Week 15

<p>Duke has won seven in a row and is still very much in the mix to win the ACC regular-season title with four games left&nbsp;to play.</p>

Duke has won seven in a row and is still very much in the mix to win the ACC regular-season title with four games left to play.

After two more wins, the Blue Devils are now in good position for a double-bye in the ACC tournament with two weeks to go in the regular season.

No. 10 North Carolina (23-5, 11-3)

The Tar Heels had an impressive week with 24-point victories against N.C. State and Virginia to remain alone atop the conference standings. North Carolina shot 56.0 percent from the field with five players in double figures and won the battle of the boards 41-25 against the Wolfpack, then rode 20 points from junior Justin Jackson and an exceptional defensive effort to a 65-41 victory against the Cavaliers, the fewest points the Tar Heels have allowed to any opponent in head coach Roy Williams' 14-year tenure. 

With three games against ranked opponents left on the schedule, the Tar Heels still have their work cut out for them to hold onto to the top seed by the time the ACC tournament rolls around.

No 8 Louisville (22-5, 10-4)

The Cardinals outlasted Syracuse 76-72 in overtime on the road Monday after blowing a late seven-point lead in regulation and nearly coughing up an identical seven-point lead in the final 30 seconds of the extra session. Three consecutive missed free throws gave the Orange a final possession down by two, but Andrew White III missed a triple that would have won it and Ryan McMahon knocked down two free throws to close the win.

Donovan Mitchell then scored 26 points and Louisville shot 12-of-22 from beyond the arc Saturday to outscore Virginia Tech in a 94-90 shootout. The Cardinals have won six of their last seven contests and travel to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina Wednesday night in a game that could decide the ACC regular-season title.

No. 12 Duke (22-5, 10-4)

Freshman Jayson Tatum's career-high 28 points on 8-of-13 shooting propelled the Blue Devils to a signature 65-55 road win at Virginia Wednesday night, and sophomore Luke Kennard led six players in double figures with 23 points Saturday afternoon in a 99-94 victory against Wake Forest for Duke's seventh straight win. The Blue Devils shot a season high 59.0 percent from the field against the Demon Deacons and made six straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win. If North Carolina beats Louisville Wednesday night, Duke will control its own destiny to win the ACC regular-season crown.

No. 25 Notre Dame (21-7, 10-5)

Down by double digits at halftime at Boston College Tuesday, the FIghting Irish took the lead for good with a 15-1 run early in the second half on their way to an 84-76 victory. V.J. Beachem then scored 27 points and shot 7-of-12 from 3-point range Saturday to help Notre Dame win on the road at N.C. State in a game it led by 23 at one point in the second half before the Wolfpack made it respectable. The Fighting Irish's 5-3 record on the road in ACC play is the best in the conference so far.

No. 17 Florida State (21-6, 9-5)

The Seminoles have lost five of their last six road games after an 80-66 defeat at Pittsburgh Saturday. No Florida State player scored more than 12 points in the loss, and the Seminoles shot just 5-of-18 from beyond the arc. Florida State sped out to a 4-0 record in conference play, but has been just .500 since then and is now out of the top four in the league for the first time this year.

No. 14 Virginia (18-8, 8-6)

It was a rough week for the Cavalier offense, which averaged just 48.0 points in losses to Duke and North Carolina. Virginia blew a four-point halftime lead against the Blue Devils and went scoreless for more than five minutes late in the second half after trimming the deficit to one. The Cavaliers shot a then-season-low 36.8 from the field in the game, but that distinction only lasted three days.

Virginia shot just 27.8 percent from the field Saturday against North Carolina and missed its first 17 3-pointers on its way to just 41 points, the fewest by any ACC team this season. The Cavaliers were not close for most of the game and suffered their largest margin of defeat in four years.

Miami (18-8, 8-6)

The Hurricanes suspended star guard Ja'Quan Newton for three games at the start of the week for a violation of team rules but still took care of business with home wins against Georgia Tech and Clemson to avoid any damaging losses to their solid NCAA tournament resume. Davon Reed scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting Wednesday and Miami went on an 18-4 run in the second half to pull away from the Yellow Jackets in a 70-61 win. Then, forward Kamari Murphy scored a career-high 15 points and the Hurricanes never trailed in the second half in a 71-65 victory against the Tigers.

Newton will finish serving his suspension during Monday night's game at Virginia before returning for a showdown with Duke Saturday in Miami's last home game of the year.

Syracuse (16-12, 8-7)

A week and a half ago, the Orange were riding a five-game winning streak and looked to be on their way to an improbable turnaround to make the NCAA tournament. But Syracuse has now lost three close contests in a row and has plenty of work left to do to bolster its NCAA tournament resume.

The Orange shot 8-of-34 from long range in its overtime loss to Louisville Monday night, and another frantic comeback came up just short Sunday against Georgia Tech. Syracuse trailed by 10 with less than three minutes left before cutting the deficit to two points and getting the ball back in the final minute. But Tyler Roberson got whistled for a moving pick, and the Yellow Jackets knocked down four free throws to seal their 71-65 win. The Orange shot just 35.7 percent from the field and 8-of-30 from deep.

Now, Syracuse likely has to beat either Duke or Louisville this week to keep any hope of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament alive.

Virginia Tech (18-8, 7-7)

The Hokies scored the last seven points of the game Tuesday to escape with a 66-63 win at Pittsburgh, taking the lead for good on a triple from Seth Allen with 1:10 remaining to complete a comeback from a 13-point second half deficit. Virginia Tech then shot an incredible 17-of-26 from 3-point range Saturday, with Seth Allen scoring 25 points to lead the way, but still lost to the Cardinals in a shootout. The Hokies' 90 points were the most a Louisville opponent has scored this season, but the Cardinals turned the ball over just three times and shot 51.5 percent from the field to escape with the win.

Georgia Tech (16-11, 7-7)

The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish 14th in the ACC preseason poll, but now have a legitimate chance to finish .500 in conference play and are on the NCAA tournament bubble in head coach Josh Pastner's first season. After its loss to Miami Wednesday night, Georgia Tech rebounded Sunday against Syracuse behind 23 points from Ben Lammers and 20 off the bench from Tadric Jackson. The Yellow Jackets started the second half on a 20-5 run and held off a late surge by the Orange for a solid win.

Wake Forest (15-12, 6-9)

The Demon Deacons struggled to defend the 3-point line in two losses this week, allowing both Clemson and Duke to score at least 95 points and shoot a combined 23-of-46 from long range. Sophomore John Collins averaged 30.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two defeats and has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight contests, but his team has come up empty-handed in every big game it has played.

After Wake Forest never had a chance against the Tigers, the Demon Deacons cut a 12-point deficit to one in the final minute against the Blue Devils and got the ball back with a chance to win. But Bryant Crawford's layup rolled off the rim with 35 seconds left, and Wake Forest dropped its second heartbreaker of the year to Duke.

Clemson (14-12, 4-10)

Marquise Reed scored 21 points off the bench to help the Tigers match their highest scoring output of the year in their 95-83 win against the Demon Deacons, but Clemson could not keep the momentum going against a much better defense at Miami. Star forward Jaron Blossomgame scored 16 points but missed all five of his 3-point attempts, contributing to the team's dismal 3-of-17 showing from deep.

Pittsburgh (15-12, 4-10)

If only the Panthers hadn't squandered an 11-point halftime lead in their three-point loss to Virginia Tech Tuesday, they would be riding a four-game winning streak and have a real chance at making the NCAA tournament. That loss hurt Pittsburgh a lot, but the Panthers responded Saturday with a big win against Florida State, led by forward Sheldon Jeter's career-high 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting.

N.C. State (14-14, 3-12)

Wolfpack athletic director Debbie Yow decided enough was enough after N.C. State's 97-73 loss to North Carolina Wednesday, firing sixth-year head coach Mark Gottfried a day later. Gottfried will remain with the team for the rest of the season, but the Wolfpack have lost seven games in a row, with their last win coming at Duke Jan. 23. Freshman phenom Dennis Smith Jr. led the team in scoring in both losses this week against the Tar Heels and Notre Dame, but is likely to declare for the NBA draft after this lost season for N.C. State.

Boston College (9-18, 2-12)

The Eagles came ready to play against Notre Dame Tuesday, jumping out to a 49-39 halftime lead, but could not hang on for the upset after the break. Freshman Ky Bowman scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds and could help Boston College turn things around in future years, but the Eagles are now on a 10-game losing streak and are likely to finish last in the ACC for the second straight season.

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