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Takeaways: BC drops a heartbreaker to FSU, looking ahead to Duke

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Photo Courtesy of BC Athletics

Recap:

Last Tuesday night, the Boston College Men’s Basketball Team suffered a loss to a tough Florida State team, by the closest of margins. After allowing the Seminoles to get out to a 19-4 lead early, the Eagles were able to claw their way back into the game, eventually tying the game at 52. However, the Eagles were unable to carry their momentum through the end of the game. In fact, they were never even able to take the lead. After a Devin McGlockton layup cut the FSU lead to 63-62, and the Seminoles’ Darin Green Jr. missed the front end of a 1-and-1, BC had 5.8 seconds to draw a play to win the game. 

And, to the chagrin of the dozens of students in attendance, the Eagles were unable to get a shot at the rim. In an especially pivotal game, where BC had the opportunity to make up significant ground in the ACC standings, they instead fell back to their usual 12th place. For a team that’s said time and time again that they want to be playing their best basketball in February and March, it was especially disappointing to witness the same story we’ve been seeing for the past two months. 

Same Old, Same Old:

Go down big early, fight all the way back in the second half, and come up just short of a win. Unfortunately, Eagles’ fans have had to witness this formula unfold several times throughout the course of BC’s ACC schedule. We saw it happen in the ACC opener against NC State, when the Eagles fought back from an 11-point deficit, just to lose in overtime. We saw it again against Syracuse, when Boston College went down 28-9, yet somehow were able to take a lead late in the second half, just to come up short of the W. Then, like clockwork, we watched them go into halftime against Virginia Tech down 44-33, cut the lead to just two points down the stretch, and then immediately give up five straight points to push the game out of reach. 

So, after a whole week’s rest after their win against Syracuse, one would hope that Coach Grant is able to have his team come out with a bit more fire. Instead, the Eagles spotted the Seminoles a 15-point lead before the second media timeout. It’s just incredibly frustrating to see the same story unfold for a fourth time. This is certainly not to say that all four of these games should have been Eagle wins because that’s just plausible. But, BC’s slow starts continuing to be a trend this late in the season is a real issue. 

To be fair, the Eagles have shown they can overcome these early deficits. In three of their four conference wins, they trailed their opponents by nine or more points. They trailed Georgia Tech by 16 early in the second half, Notre Dame by 12 in the first half, and Syracuse by 9 in the first half. So, they might be able to get away with it against the worse teams in the ACC, but against teams the Eagles are supposed to be competing with, it’s just not going to fly. All fans can do is hope that Grant figures out a way to shake the sluggish starts, but, with just nine games remaining on the regular schedule, patience is running thin. 

Final Play and Post-Game Quotes:

As mentioned in the recap section, despite going down 19-4 early in the first half, the Eagles still had a chance to win the game late. Trailing 63-62, BC rebounded an FSU missed free throw, and had a chance to draw up a play to win the game with 5.8 seconds remaining. Grant decided to inbound the ball to Quinten Post at the top of the key and trust his senior leader to make the right play. Unfortunately, the play was promptly shut down, and the Eagles failed to even get a shot at the basket. While I don’t think this was squarely on the coaches or players, it is still a pretty abhorrent way to end a basketball game at home. 

It was pretty clear that the coaches and players were not on the same page. When asked what they were looking for in the postgame presser, Post gave a jumbled answer that included “I couldn’t exactly tell you” and “…we wanted a good shot… I don’t think we got a good shot”.  Grant gave a much more in-depth answer to the question, explaining how they wanted Post to go to either Jaeden Zackery or Claudell Harris Jr., and if all else fails, drive to the hoop seeking contact. 

FSU pressured Post immediately on the catch, so the big man passed to Zackery, who was promptly doubled, before turning the ball over. Given how the Seminoles defended, the Eagles’ coaching staff likely would have preferred Post to take it to the basket himself. Regardless of the outcome, I’m of the opinion that giving the ball to your 7-footer 25 feet from the basket might not have been the best idea with just 5.8 seconds on the clock. 

Key Performers:

With all my negativity from this game, I would be remiss not to shoutout some key individual performance that allowed the Eagles to stay in this game. First, Post had a phenomenal game, putting up an efficient 21 points and 12 rebound stat-line. The Dutchman converted on 9 of his 13 field goal attempts and went 3-5 from behind the arc. But despite this fantastic performance, the big man was still visibly frustrated with himself, and the team, for allowing FSU to escape Chestnut Hill with a win. 

After Post’s performance, the Eagles’ second leading scorer actually came off the bench. And no, his name was not Claudell Harris Jr.. Mason Madsen had himself a very solid game, scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting, including a pair of timely three-point baskets. While Madsen admittedly air-balled a wide-open shot with under a minute remaining, he still turned one of his better performances of the season. While Madsen is known for his prolific three-point shooting, the junior guard had a couple of tough finishes at the rim. 

What’s Next:

The Eagles return to action against an absolute buzzsaw of opponents. Grant’s team will be traveling to famed Cameron Indoor Stadium, to take on the 9th-ranked Duke Blue Devils. The Eagles will obviously be underdogs in this matchup, as the Blue Devils are 3rd in the ACC, and boast one of the most prolific home court advantages in college basketball. However, I do not think the Blue Devils pose a particularly bad matchup for the Eagles. While BC was obviously not comfortable with Florida State’s noticeable length and unusual playstyle, this Duke squad is built in a much more traditional in its playstyle. 

Lately, Duke has been starting three guards (Roach, Proctor, McCain), an athletic forward (Mitchell), and a dynamic center (Filipowski). With Aligbe’s recent injury, I think it is more than likely that Grant will start Zackery, McGlockton, Post, and two of Kelley III/Harris Jr./Madsen. So, while the Blue Devils are clearly the more talented team, in terms of matchups, I don’t think the Eagles will be terribly overmatched. Obviously, with a statement like that, I am setting myself up for disappointment. But, with the weekend that BC Athletics is having, why can’t the Eagles pull off the upset?

With a win, the Eagles would improve to 14-9 (5-7 ACC) on the season, and likely rise to t-10th in the conference standings. With a loss, the Eagles would fall to 13-10 on the season, and remain in 12th place in the conference standings, regardless of how teams below them perform. While I’ve had this matchup penciled in as a loss all season, I don’t think this Duke team is invincible to bad losses. This Duke team has lost to Pitt at home, to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and let a bad Notre Dame team stick around for 38 minutes. So, looking at the ACC standings, a loss to BC would certainly not be their worst of the season. 

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Florida State 84, Boston College 76: Eagles struggle to defend Seminoles

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Boston College fell to Florida State 84-76 Tuesday night in Tallahassee, as despite a quick start scoring-wise the Eagles struggled to defend a similarly-hot-handed Seminoles team that dropped the Eagles to 6-9 in conference play.

It was back-and-forth very early on, with the first missed shot of the game not coming until almost four minutes in. The first half ended in a high-scoring 43-43 knot.

Things stayed even until roughly the halfway mark of the second half when FSU went on a 10-0 run that gave them a 70-61 advantage, the largest lead of the entire game for both sides. That ended up being the deciding factor, as the Eagles were unable to get within less than eight from that point on.

BC had four players in double-figures for scoring-wise, getting just eight points from the bench. Jaeden Zackery led the way with 19 on 3-for-3 from 3-point range, while Mason Madsen hit four 3s and put up 14. Quinten Post tallied 15 with seven of those points coming from the charity strike and Devin McGlockton also put up 13 points. The lone starting five member not in double-digits was Claudell Harris, who went just 1-for-5 from beyond the arch inducing just seven points out of him.

Boston College will continue the road trip and take on NC State Saturday in Raleigh at 2:00 p.m. ET, with the Eagles hoping to avoid the double-digit mark of losses in ACC play. The Wolfpack are losers of three out of their last four, however.

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Takeaways: BC Defends Homecourt against Louisville and Miami

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Mason Madsen hitting one of his seven threes. Photo Courtesy of Canes County

Recap:

Last week, the Boston College Men’s Basketball team was able to defend home court twice: on Tuesday night against Louisville, and on Saturday afternoon against Miami. Late Tuesday night, the Eagles were able to overcome a sluggish start, and an empty Conte Forum, and beat the last-place Louisville Cardinals 89-77. The Eagles saw six players reach double figures in scoring, led by Claudell Harris Jr.’s 20 points,  Devin McGlockton’s 19 points, and Quinten Post’s 17 points. This win was especially crucial for BC, as they were coming off consecutive losses to FSU and Duke, and allowed the Eagles to stay in contact with the middle tier of the ACC. 

After taking down Louisville in a desolate Conte Forum, the Eagles returned to their home court on Saturday to a much different scene. With a much more fan-friendly tipoff time of 4PM, Conte played host to an excellent crowd for their matchup against Miami. And, to the delight of the Eagle-faithful, BC got off to a scorching hot start, taking an 18-7 lead early on. While the Hurricanes were able to even the score at halftime, and take as much as a five-point lead late in the second half, Mason Madsen’s hot hand, and Post’s dominance in the paint were enough to propel the Eagles to an 85-77 victory. 

Offensive Excellence:

After scoring just 62 against FSU and 65 against Duke, I was beginning to lose faith in Coach Grant’s offensive system. However, these past two games have been excellent offensive showings for the Eagles. Against Louisville, BC scored a remarkable 89 points on 56.7% from the field, and 47.8% from behind the arc. And it wasn’t that the Eags were knocking down uncharacteristically difficult shots. Grant’s offense was actually able to generate great looks for open shooters, racking up 21 assists in the process. 

While it might not have been surprising to see the Eagles rack up 89 points on the last place team in the ACC, it was certainly encouraging to see them follow up with a similar performance against Miami. In Saturday’s game, the offense put up 85 points on similarly efficient splits of 47.5% from the field and 50% (15-30!) from three. Madsen and Post led the way offensively, accounting for 15 of the Eagles’ 28 converted field goals. If Grant can keep the offense humming the way it has for the past two outings, each of the six games remaining on the schedule look very winnable. 

Madsen Madness:

Since being inserted into the starting lineup against Duke, Mason Madsen has been an absolute revelation for the Eagles. In the past three games, the Eagles are 2-1, with their lone loss coming away at Duke. Throughout that three game span, Madsen has led the Eagles in scoring, averaging 17 points per game. And the highlight of this stretch came in his 25-point performance against Miami, where he hit (possibly) the most important three-pointer of the Eagles’ season. 

Madsen absolutely torched the Hurricanes from behind the arc, knocking down a career-high seven three pointers en route to the win. With Madsen’s latest hot streak from three, he is now shooting 45.8% from beyond the arc, which is well above the 90th percentile in Division One. With Madsen now in the starting lineup, the Eagles now have three serious threats from behind the arc, with Post hitting 46.1% of his attempts, and Harris Jr. hitting 38.9% of his. The spacing and offensive flow of Grant’s new-look starting five is enormously better with Madsen in for Aligbe, but we will see if the Eagles can survive without Aligbe’s size and added rebounding. 

Defensive Concerns:

While the offense was clicking on all cylinders last week, I cannot help but be a bit concerned about the Eagles’ defense. In an interesting contrast to Grant’s first two seasons, where the Eagles hung their hats on their ability to defend, this iteration of the Eagles’ roster is much more capable offensively, but has shown some cracks on the defensive end. For example, BC gave up 47 first half points on 51% shooting against Louisville. While Louisville has shown some ability to score, there is no legitimate reason to allow the last place team in the ACC to run up the score like that. Thankfully, the Eagles woke up on defense in the second frame, only allowing 30 second half points. 

Next, against Miami, at times it felt like the Hurricanes could get whatever look they wanted on offense. The Hurricanes shot 56% in the first half, and frankly, it could have been much worse. The Eagles seemed flummoxed by the Hurricane’s pick and roll, and whenever Post was switched off of Miami’s Norchad Omier, it seemed to always result in an open shot. Though I will give Grant credit for switching to his “amoeba” defense down the stretch. While Miami was able to exploit the Eagle’s man-to-man defense, they struggled with the matchup-zone look in the waning minutes. BC’s defense down the stretch was the key to igniting their 17-4 run to end the game. 

Outlook on the Remaining Schedule:

Thanks to the Eagles’ 2-0 homestand, they are now in contact with the middle of the ACC. After falling to 13-10 (4-8 ACC) after Duke, they were in real danger of dooming themselves to the basement of the ACC. But, with eight teams within two games of each other in the ACC standings, the Eagles will have several opportunities to continue climbing the ladder. BC’s remaining schedule consists of road games against Florida State and NC State, a homestand against UVA and Pitt, and a pair of road games against Miami and Pitt.

The good news for the Eagles? All six of these games are extremely winnable. The bad news? All six of these games are also losable. The margin for error is razor thin in this final stretch of the regular season. But, if the Eagles can find a way to win 3-4 of these games, they could be in contention for a first round bye in the ACC tournament, and perhaps a bid to the NIT. 

What’s Next:

Boston College returns to action Tuesday night at 7PM, when they will take on the aforementioned Florida State Seminoles. After losing a gut-wrenching 63-62 game to the Seminoles in Conte Forum, the Eagles will be looking for revenge. This game also has severe implications for the ACC standings, as FSU holds a one-game lead over BC in the standings. The Seminoles open as 4.5-point favorites against the Eagles. 

A win would go a long way towards securing that first-round bye, but even more so for the energy surrounding the program. We just saw what a packed Conte Forum can look like against Miami. So it is imperative that the Eagles return home with some kind of momentum, and get fans invested in the team’s stretch run.

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Boston College 85, Miami 77: Mason Madsen hits career-highs in Eagles win over Hurricanes

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Mason Madsen had a day to remember for Boston College Saturday, as he led the Eagles past Miami with a career-high seven 3-pointers and 25 points. BC won, 85-77, as they kept the momentum from a quick start all the way through.

The Eagles were ahead fast and early, jumping out to an 18-7 lead just five minutes into the ballgame. Miami eventually caught up to them though in a back-and-forth, high-scoring battle — the Hurricanes tied it at 29-29 with 7:41 to go in the first half. They battled until the end of the half, when it was tied 41-41 after 20 minutes of play.

It remained back-and-forth but Miami began to gain an edge about halfway through the second half. They then held on to a lead from the 12-minute mark all the way to the three-minute mark, but the Eagles’ deficit didn’t get further than four points away from the Hurricanes. A Claudell Harris Jr. layup with three minutes to go made it 74-73 Eagles, and they added on from there. Madsen knocked down a 3 before a pair of Devin McGlockton converted free throws put them in front by six with a minute to go, and they held on to that lead with a few baskets made from both sides to give BC the 85-77 victory.

Quinten Post had 23 for the Eagles, a big night for him after he had been struggling the past few outings, also knocking down a trio of 3-pointers. Harris Jr. had 15 while Jaeden Zackery added 11 to go along with seven assists. McGlockton picked up a team-best 10 rebounds.

BC moves to 6-8 in conference play Tuesday night in Tallahassee as they take on Florida State with a 7 p.m. ET tip. They continue the road trip with a matchup against the Wolfpack a week from today, as NC State plays hosts to BC next Saturday afternoon in the 2:00 p.m. ET slot.

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