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Takeaways: BC (finally) takes down the Orange, Looking ahead to FSU

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Game Recap:

Last Tuesday, for the first time in nearly six years, the Boston College Men’s basketball team was able to take down the Syracuse Orange. The Eagles beat the Orange by a score of 80-75, thanks in large part to a 21-0 run spanning the two halves, and 14 second-half points from Claudell Harris Jr. After the Eagles jumped out to a 7-2 lead, they subsequently let up an 18-4 run, as it looked as if the Orange were poised to pull away. However, thanks to some timely three-point shooting, the Eagles went into the half with a 37-30. 

The Eagles carried this momentum into the second half, scoring the first seven points of the half and going up 44-30. However, the Orange would not go away quietly. After converting on ten consecutive field goal attempts, Syracuse cut the BC lead to just two, and looked poised to retake the lead. Unfortunately for the Orange faithful, Harris Jr. had other ideas. The transfer guard scored all 14 of his second half points in a 3:37 span. Suddenly, the Eagles were back up double digits, and were able to secure their fourth ACC victory in the process. 

Weathering the Storm:

My first takeaway from this game was how well the Eagles were able to weather the storm in the first half. Once Syracuse went up 20-11, and BC was struggling to get anything going on offense, many viewers (including myself) might have expected the Eagles to let another winnable game slip away. But, thanks to the longest offensive run in the Earl Grant Era (21-0!), BC completely flipped the script and retook control. 

In addition to their furious scoring run, I was also thoroughly impressed by how BC responded to Syracuse’s comeback efforts. With the Orange chipping away, and a newly energized majority-Orange crowd in Conte, the Eagles found themselves in a dangerous spot. However, the Eagles never allowed the Orange to regain the lead, and were able to close the game out. 

Standings Check:

While the Eagles will take any conference victory they can get, this victory against Syracuse was particularly important in terms of the ACC Standings. Had they dropped this game to the Orange, they would have dropped to 3-7 in the ACC, tying them for 12th in the conference. Instead, at 4-6, they are tied with Pitt for 11th. While this may not seem like a huge difference, this victory over Syracuse keeps them in contention for a first round bye in the ACC tournament. 

As it currently stands, there are six teams with five or six losses. So, with ten ACC games to play, the middle of the ACC standings is completely up for grabs. Given the Eagles’ remaining schedule, there is a great chance they could be competing for a 7th-9th place finish. If the Eagles can find themselves right in the middle of the ACC, they should be in great position for an NIT bid, which is looking like the ceiling of the team right now. 

Resurgence of Claudell Harris Jr. :

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Claudell Harris Jr. had been riding the coldest stretch of his career. Over his last four games, the junior guard shot just 10-37 from the field, and 5-22 from three. After a couple of tough shooting performances, Coach Grant made the decision to move Harris Jr. to the bench in favor of Chas Kelley III. When asked about the move, Grant said he hoped the change of pace would settle Harris Jr. down. 

Well, after two straight wins, Grant seems to have made the correct call. In their second win against Notre Dame, Harris Jr. had a crucial 9 points on 3-7 shooting. And last Tuesday against Syracuse, he led all scorers with 19 points on 7-11 shooting (off the bench!). And I’d be remiss not to reiterate Harris Jr.’s game-sealing 14-point stretch. The Eagles were in real danger of letting Syracuse come all the way back, but Harris Jr. shut the door on the Orange, and saved the day for the Eagles. 

Turnover Struggles:

The Eagles’ first game against the Orange might have been the most frustrating Boston College basketball game I’ve ever watched. BC turned the ball over a shocking 22 times, Jaeden Zackery and Quinten Post were both held scoreless, and the Eagles still led late in the game Yet, Grant’s squad was unable to close it out. This time around, while the end result was different, BC was still plagued by the same problems. Syracuse’s length continued to bother the Eagles, who committed 21 turnovers. For reference, the Eagles have only been averaging about 10 turnovers per game throughout the season, good enough for 51st in the country.  

And, for the second consecutive game, the Orange did a fantastic job of limiting Quinten Post. While he was not scoreless, the big Eagles’ leading scorer only scored 9 points on 3-5 shooting. Post’s more glaring issue was his seven turnovers. Post has proven that he can be a great passer out of the post, as well as a solid ball handler. But something about the length and quickness of Syracuse’ frontcourt just gives the big man fits. 

If the Eagles want to have a chance against a much-improved Florida State team, they will have to figure out how to better handle length and quickness, as FSU boasts both at each position. 

What’s Next:

After consecutive wins against Notre Dame and Syracuse, the Eagles will return to action next Tuesday, when they will take on Florida State in a 7 PM matchup. The Seminoles have been somewhat of a surprise team in the ACC, as they currently sit at fourth in the ACC standings, after finishing just 12th last season. FSU could pose a particularly tough matchup for the Eagles, as they play a similar style to Syracuse, but at a considerably higher level. 

With a win, the Eagles would improve to 5-6 in the ACC and leapfrog Clemson for 10th in the standings. Should they fall to the Seminoles, the Eagles would fall to 4-7 in the ACC, and risk falling below Pitt to 12th in the standings. A win would put BC one step closer to a coveted first-round bye in the ACC tournament. With the Eagles staring down an away matchup to 7th-ranked Duke following the next game, a win against FSU would go such a long way for the Eagles. 

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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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