Check below for game stories from all the ACC basketball action on Saturday. While we’re in non-conference play, stories will be listed in alphabetical order, by which ACC team is involved.
St. John’s Beats Georgia Tech 69-58
NEW YORK (AP) – JaKarr Sampson had an explanation for and a solution to the problem of St. John’s poor starts which have had the Red Storm trailing by double figures.
“It’s just a bad habit we have. We don’t come out with enough energy, enough fight,” the sophomore forward said Saturday. “We have to come out like we’re down already.”
The Red Storm were down big very early against Georgia Tech, trailing 19-4 just over 12 minutes in. But, just like against Penn State the night before, they rallied to get even and this time, pulled away for a 69-58 victory over the Yellow Jackets in the third-place game of the Barclays Center Classic.
D’Angelo Harrison scored 21 points for St. John’s (5-2), which used a 24-2 run in the second half to take control and offset Friday night’s 89-82 overtime loss to Penn State.
Harrison was 12 of 13 from the free throw line, where St. John’s enjoyed a big advantage. The Red Storm were 27 of 35, while Georgia Tech was 12 of 14.
“Of course we’re frustrated but this team has a way of fighting back,” Harrison said. “We have to get together. We can’t get down 15. That will be a whole new ballgame when we get the lead early.”
Robert Carter Jr. and Trae Golden both had nine points for the Yellow Jackets (5-3), who still led 46-36 with 13:04 to play on a layup by Daniel Miller.
That would be their last field goal for 11:39 as St. John’s went on the big run. Before the drought ended on an offensive rebound by Miller with 1:25 to play, Georgia Tech missed 13 shots from the field, committed eight turnovers and went 4 for 4 from the free throw line.
“Unlike the first half, there were a couple of things that happened in the second half,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “Defensively, they guarded the basket and they did a good job of attacking the basket. Twenty-five free throws in the second half, that’s hard to overcome. Our turnovers really hurt us. Once we took the 10-point lead, the rest of the way they hit one jump shot and then it was either a free throw or layup. A lot of those layups were created off turnovers.”
Sampson added 16 points for St. John’s. Chris Obekpa, who leads the nation in blocked shots at 5.8 per game, had six blocks, three points and five rebounds.
“He just doesn’t get blocks, he gets blocks at crucial times,” Gregory said of Obekpa, whom he recruited heavily. “His blocks lead to breaks. That’s a great weapon.”
Miller had eight points and 12 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, who finished with 20 turnovers, eight over their average for the season.
Georgia Tech, which lost 77-67 to Mississippi in the semifinals, opened the early lead as the Red Storm had their own drought.
The Yellow Jackets were 5 for 10 from 3-point range in the first half, a surprising result for a team that came in shooting 29.2 percent from beyond the arc. Georgia Tech finished 6 of 16 on 3-pointers.
Sampson’s dunk off an alley-oop pass from Jamal Branch started the Red Storm’s big run, and they scored 17 straight points in taking a 53-46 lead with 6:26 to go.
“I thought the kids played with purpose in the second half. It was a cohesive bunch,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said. “The last two games were really good for us. Naturally I would have preferred to leave here with a 6-1 record, but I thought our best game of the season was last night. We didn’t play as well today but we won. … We took a baby step in our development.”
Warren Rallies N.C. State Past E. Kentucky 75-56
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – T.J. Warren scored 30 points – 26 in the second half – to lead North Carolina State to a 75-56 victory over Eastern Kentucky Saturday night at PNC Arena.
After a cold shooting first half (9 of 28 from the floor, 0-7 from beyond the arc), NC State (4-2) came out and outscored Eastern Kentucky 9-2 in the first 2:38 of the second half to take its first lead (30-29) since early in the first half (7-6).
Warren and Anthony Barber were the catalysts that got NC State moving in the final 20 minutes Warren hit two jumpers to start the half and Warren used his superior athletic ability to drive and score seven straight points to give the Wolfpack a 47-41 lead it would not relinquish.
NC State then went on a tear in the final 10 minutes of the game to quickly extend a 51-49 lead. Barber, Ralston Turner, Warren and a thunderous dunk by Desmond Lee pushed the lead 65-51 with 3 minutes remaining.
Both teams struggled to hit jumpers in the first half. Senior guard Glenn Cosey, one of the Ohio Valley Conference’s top players, struggled from long range and was held to 14 points. He didn’t hit his first 3-pointer until there was 5:05 remaining in the half, which put the Colonials up by 10 (22-12) against the equally-cold Wolfpack.
NC State briefly led 6-5 on a dunk by center Jordan Vandenberg 3:30 into the game. Over the next 12 minutes, the Wolfpack made only 3 of 17 shots from the field, yet only trailed 22-15 because the Colonels missed their share from the floor (5 of 17).
Eastern Kentucky dared NC State to shoot over its 2-3 zone and the Wolfpack struggled from beyond the arc in the first half. It scored 14 of its 21 points in the half from inside the paint, using its size advantage.
Corey Walden added 13 points for Eastern Kentucky (6-2), which had a four-game winning streak end.
NOTES: NCSU guard Tyler Lewis was perfect from the foul line heading into the game (10-10 this year, 17 straight over two seasons) before missing his first attempt late in the first half. … . NCSU is 10-1 all-time against EKU. This was the first meeting between the schools since Jan. 23, 1960, a 58-50 NCSU win at Reynolds Coliseum. All 11 meetings have been in Raleigh. The only EKU win was Feb. 28, 1959 (71-61). … Eastern Kentucky is 13-35 against the Atlantic Coast Conference, while NC State is 14-2 against the Ohio Valley Conference.
Pitt Stays Perfect, Pulls Away From Duquesne 84-67
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Cameron Wright scored a career-high 20 points and Pittsburgh pulled away in the second half for a 84-67 victory over Duquesne in the City Game on Saturdayafternoon.
Wright added five assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes for the Panthers (7-0). Talib Zanna had 13 points and six rebounds and Lamar Patterson chipped in 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists as Pitt beat its crosstown rival for the 13th straight time.
Ovie Soko led Duquesne (2-3) with 17 points but the Dukes couldn’t keep pace over the final 15 minutes. Pitt put together a 15-1 run early in the second half to break it open. The Dukes made 9 of 18 3-pointers but shot just 18 of 35 (51 percent) from the free throw line.
The result was a competitive game but one with a familiar outcome.
The Panthers have dominated the series between the two schools located just 2 miles apart. Pitt has now won 32 of the last 35 meetings and all but one this millennium, with 11 of those victories coming by double digits.
This one, however, was tougher than usual.
The Panthers used a quick 12-0 run to take control early, but the Dukes eventually settled down in what second-year coach Jim Ferry calls a “measuring stick” game for his program.
Soko led the way. The UAB transfer looked rushed while missing a series of shots at the rim but once he found his footing, the Dukes took off.
Duquesne used a 22-7 surge midway through the first half to take the lead. Soko had little trouble getting whatever look he wanted no matter who the Panthers threw out to guard him. When pitted against Zanna, Soko broke down the bigger center off the dribble. When facing Michael Young or Jamel Artis, he used his strength to the lane.
Soko’s resiliency produced the kind of back and forth play the Panthers have largely avoided while sprinting to the eighth 6-0 start in the last 12 years. Pitt needed a dunk from Patterson and a putback by Artis to take a 39-35 lead at the break, the closest any opponent has been to the Panthers at the break all year.
It didn’t last.
Tra’Vaughn White hit a 3-pointer to put the Dukes up 44-41 less than 3 minutes into the second half, earning a quick timeout from Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. White’s jumper appeared to get the Panthers’ attention, and they responded behind Wright. He scored seven points during the game-turning run, including a difficult layup in traffic in which he absorbed a massive blow to the ribs from Duquesne’s Darius Lewis.
Josh Newkirk followed with a jumper, and Patterson converted a layup and the ensuing free throw off an inbounds play to make it 56-45.
The Dukes never got closer than eight the rest of the way, though the first 25 minutes were proof that Jim Ferry’s rebuilding project is well under way in a game he called a measuring stick for his young program, which features just two seniors and 11 freshmen or sophomores.
Ferry is optimistic about the future, though it may be awhile before he gets a sense of what he has on his hands. Guard Micah Mason is out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in right hand. Freshman forward Isaiah Watkins is still recovering from left knee surgery in October and freshman forward Jordan Robinson is waiting to be cleared to play by NCAA.
Duquesne had just nine scholarship players on the roster Saturday and the Dukes wore down under the relentless play from the suddenly up-tempo Panthers, who are averaging nearly 82 points a game this season.
Virginia hands Missouri St its first loss, 83-63
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) – Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey both came off the Virginia bench to score a combined 37 points and lead the Cavaliers to the Corpus Christi Challenge tournament championship, stopping Missouri State, 83-63 Saturday night.
Anderson’s 23 points on 10 of 13 shooting was high for the game. Tobey grabbed 6 rebounds to go with his 14 points. Starters Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon had 15 and 13 points, respectively, and Anthony Gill had eight points and grabbed an equal number of boards.
Virginia (7-1) led by 10 points at halftime and pulled away steadily in the second half.
Gavin Thurman had 14 points off the bench for the Bears, matching starter Jamar Gulley’s output.
Missouri State, which lost its first game in seven starts, finished on a 10-3 run to create the final margin.
Tennessee Rolls Past Wake Forest, 82-63
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) – Tennessee was sputtering after its debut in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Volunteers are heading home with a slew of newfound momentum.
Jarnell Stokes scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Darius Thompson scored 16 and Tennessee beat Wake Forest 82-63 on Saturday in the fifth-place game at the tournament in the Bahamas.
“Good team win,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Coming off a tough loss the first night, I didn’t think we played well on either end of the floor. But our guys did a tremendous job of bouncing back. Really, a lot of credit to our guys for bouncing back after that first game.”
Stokes needed only nine shots from the floor to get his 21 points, and his 10 boards were twice as many as the total posted by any Wake Forest player.
“My mindset coming out is never to score,” Stokes said. “If someone is open and it’s not my time to score, I won’t try to. I come into every game just trying to play defense and get as many rebounds as I can.”
In the Bahamas, that’s exactly what Stokes did: three games, three double-doubles.
Jordan McRae scored 10 points for the Volunteers (5-2), who controlled play throughout. Tennessee outscored Wake Forest 40-26 in the paint, and held a 34-28 rebounding edge in the first matchup between the schools in nearly 43 years.
Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 17 points for Wake Forest (6-2). Travis McKie scored 15 points and Coron Williams added 10 for the Demon Deacons, who shot 42 percent compared with 53 percent by the Volunteers.
Wake Forest lost to No. 2 Kansas to open the tournament, then beat Southern California on Friday.
“We had three experiences here. We had the decent, the very good, and the ugly,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “And we need to, as a team, understand why each experience happened and to draw from that. We played a team today that is a very mature, physical basketball team. They threw the first punch, put us on our heels and we did not control our emotions.”
The game was chippy, sometimes mildly heated, with the teams combining for 50 personal fouls and 60 free-throw attempts.
Tennessee’s first game in the Bahamas was a late-night loss Thursday to Texas-El Paso, an outing that left Martin lamenting how his team was misfiring in a number of areas.
A night of short sleep followed, and Tennessee got right in a hurry. The Volunteers won their last two games in the tournament by a combined 34 points, and Stokes had the 22nd double-double of his 57-game Tennessee career.
“That’s what I try to do every game,” Stokes said.
Tennessee wasn’t just hurting Wake Forest inside, the Vols were even hurting each other – so to speak. After Jeronne Maymon scored with 18:11 to put his team up 50-34, he slapped five with Vols’ guard Antonio Barton.
Maymon left that exchange smiling.
Barton left it smarting, shaking his hand after a particularly hard smack from his teammate.
The win came in Tennessee’s first of three games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the coming weeks. Tennessee plays host to North Carolina State on Dec. 18 and Virginia on Dec. 30.
Tennessee is off until it plays host to Tennessee Tech on Dec. 7. Wake Forest resumes its schedule against Tulane on Dec. 4, and Bzdelik already was sounding eager to get back on the floor.
“A loss is really a loss if you don’t learn something from it,” Bzdelik said.