Sunday, February 25, 2007

Duke 67, St. John's 50

Defense doesn't get a lot better than 10 points in a first half. St. John's shot 13.6% and turned the ball over 11 times in 31 possessions, staking Duke to a lead that was basically insurmountable. The offense also looked good in the early going, with lots of points in transitition and good passing - McRoberts to Nelson (if you watch the replays closely, you see Nelson catch his eye, briefly point up for the pass, and then take off for the leap a good two steps before Josh throws it) and Paulus to McClure to McRoberts for example. Things were bound to equalize a little bit in the second half, but Duke still played solid basketball throughout. One thing to note - Duke has been outscored by 46 points in the second half in February. Paulus had a nice offensive game, with 19 points, including 5 of 7 three point shooting. McRoberts played some terrific post defense, picking up 6 blocks and altering at least another half dozen. And finally, while Duke's free throw shooting has been criticized a bit, they closed out the game 17 of 19 (after the 4-10 start).

I haven't been able to run the per possession stats for Duke, because there's no play-by-play on the GoDuke website and the CBS and ESPN ones don't square with the box score. Hopefully this will be remedied by tomorrow. All the ACC stats are updated through this weekend's games.


Virginia pulls out a close one against Georgia Tech after laying a huge egg against Miami. The Singletary/Reynolds show finishes the season hosting Virginia Tech and at Wake Forest (who has been frisky at home). As a side note, I 've been working on schedule strength numbers for the ACC, and Virginia's is remarkably easy - in the neighborhood of two and a quarter standard deviations easier than what would be an average schedule. Georgia Tech is firmly fixed on the bubble, and can take themselves off of it if they hold home court in two tough games this week (against UNC and BC).

Maryland picked up a huge win against UNC tonight. This team has all the makings of a big tournament run - senior leadership, strong post play, strong guard play, and peaking at the right time. Since almost singlehandedly contributing to Maryland's poor conference start, DJ Strawberry is 37 of 61 with 10 assists, 3 turnovers, and 24 rebounds during Maryland's 5 game winning streak. Maryland finishes at Duke and home against NC State. For Carolina, rebounding and free throws killed them. UNC got killed on the glass - Maryland was about 2/3 on defense and close to 50% on offense. They also shot under 50% from the line, including a killer 0-4 from Brandan Wright. Carolina finishes at Georgia Tech and home against Duke.

BC beat Clemson in an ugly, ugly basketball game. Dudley was fantastic with 23 and 11, and Tyrelle Blair was a defensive force with 6 big blocks. By the way, Blair's block rate is best in the ACC, and just shy of what Sean Williams was putting up (actually better than what Williams had done in conference play). BC's only remaining game is at Georgia Tech. The wheels have officially come off at Clemson, as they put up just 54 points in 64 possessions. They shot barely better than 33% on the game, against a BC defense that has been less than stingy this year. They get what should be a win against Miami this week, and then finish at Virginia Tech with their tournament life on the line.

FSU cruised to a win over NC State behind 10 of 20 three point shooting and stingy defense. They finish on the road against Miami to try to get to 7-9 in conference and needing a win in the tourney to hit 20 on the season. They'll be able to make a very compelling case on the absence of Toney Douglas, if, as expected, he'll be back for the NCAAs - 3 of their 4 losses without him were by a combined 10 points.

Virginia Tech pulled away from Miami in the second half. The starting lineup for Tech had big games all around. They finish the season with a rivalry game at UVA (the game in Blacksburg was a 27 point Hokie romp) and home against Clemson. They're playing for seeding (both conference and NCAA tourney) at this point.

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