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State’s Barber cleared to play

Cat Barber.

Cat Barber.

NC State sophomore point guard Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber has been cleared to play after suffering a spasm in his neck muscles.

Barber, a native of Newport News, Va., will continue to receive treatment and is expected to be at full strength for NC State’s postseason play next week.

Barber was under the care and supervision of NC State’s sports medicine personnel since the injury on Thursday night. On Friday evening, he received a computed tomography (X-ray CT) scan of his head and neck. The tests all came back normal.

The injury occurred at the 13:26 mark in the second half of NC State’s ACC Tournament contest vs. Duke.

Barber averages 12.1 points per game and leads the Wolfpack with 3.81 assists per game. He has been a breakout player in recent weeks for NC State, averaging 16.0 points over the last 11 games. He scored a career-high 34 points in NC State’s ACC Tournament victory over Pittsburgh.

NC State owns a 20-13 record and is currently listed as No. 39 in the ESPN.com Daily RPI.

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Tar Heels “man up” to advance by Louisville

Brice Johnson.

Brice Johnson.

North Carolina trailed by 10 during the first half and by five at the half before deciding to “man up” in the second half, resulting in a 70-60 ACC Tournament quarterfinal victory over Louisville to advance to Friday’s semi-finals against top-ranked Virginia.

UNC’s Brice Johnson scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half while the Carolina defense held Louisville to 22 percent from the floor in the second half.

“I decided to man up and play in the second half,” said Johnson, adding that the team wanted to give it their all after losing a lead to Louisville at their place earlier this season.

Carolina coach Roy Williams shed his jacket and angrily called a timeout in the first half because, he said, he didn’t feel as if his team was hustling as much as it should and his players were making silly turnovers.

He told the team that he felt lucky to be down by just five at the half.

“We got off to a good start in the second half,” Coach Williams said. “We played a lot of zone in the second half and they missed some shots in the second half that they normally make.”

He added that he agreed with Johnson that the players “manned up” and decided to play better in the second half.

Williams even got more out of Kennedy Meeks, who missed the first game of the tournament with an illness, than he thought he’d get. Meeks looked shaky in first half but during crunch time in the second half, he came through.

Meeks scored to give Carolina a 56-55 lead with 8:10 left in the game. Less than four minutes later, he powered up for one bucket and followed it with an offensive rebound put back to give the Heels their largest lead to that point at 64-57 with 3:48 to go. He followed that up with a block on the defensive end, allowing Carolina to run the shot clock down.

The Tar Heels wrapped up the victory by going 6 of 6 at the line over the last 49 seconds.

Joel Berry kept Carolina in it during the first half with all eight of his points coming in less than a two-minute period where he drained a pair of threes.

But it was the second half where the Tar Heels excelled.

Marcus Paige, who hit threes to start the game and the second half on the way to 13 points, said the Tar Heels are playing with more poise. “We did not rush as much and we are taking better shots,” he said.

He added that the Tar Heels will have to be extremely disciplined in order to beat top-seeded Virginia Friday.

The Tar Heels, now 23-10, play at 7 p.m. Friday against the Cavaliers while Louisville, who were led by Terry Rozier’s 20 points and Wayne Blackshear’s 18 points, waits for its invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

Boxscore

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Tar Heels hold down Hanlan, rip BC by 18

accbballlogoNorth Carolina held the conference leading scorer to just over 25 percent from the floor as the Tar Heels wore down Boston College and won going away, 81-63, in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

BC’s Olivier Hanlan, a first-team All-ACC player, managed to hit just five of 19 shots, including just one of five from beyond the three-point line.

“We wanted to make sure he didn’t shoot a great percentage,” said UNC coach Roy Williams, who noted the defensive play of JP Tokoto and others on him.

But it looked iffy early for North Carolina, which was playing without a sick Kennedy Meeks, as Meeks’ replacement Isaiah Hicks had two quick fouls with the Tar Heels trailing Boston College after the first five minutes.

Marcus Paige.

Marcus Paige.

But the Tar Heels took a lead midway through the first half with a 7-0 run, highlighted by a Justin Jackson three, and never relinquished it.

A 10-2 run over the last three minutes of the opening half, which included a half-court pass from Tokoto to Jackson for a bucket and a converted foul, gave the Heels their largest lead at the half, 43-30.

The lead dwindled from 15 to eight over the first eight minutes of the second half. But both teams had trouble scoring for a while as the Tar Heels went nearly four minutes without a bucket and the Eagles went more than four minutes without a bucket.

“We missed three layups out of four possessions,” Coach Williams said,” but the guys kept playing.”

After BC missed an opportunity to cut the margin to five after missing a three attempt, Carolina went on a 6-0 run to work the margin back up to 14 at 60-46.

It never got closer than nine points the rest of the way as Marcus Paige took over, picking up his seventh, eighth and ninth assist while scoring nine points of his own over the last seven minutes.

With the win, North Carolina advances to play Louisville Thursday at about 2:30 p.m. after the first game of the day. Those two teams split comeback victories during the season.

“They probably should have won the game at our place and we probably should have won at their place,” Coach Williams said.

Paige noted that the sting of the loss at Louisville was more recent and, after the way the Tar Heels lost, he said he wants to erase that memory.

Paige, who was hampered during the year with a foot injury, said he has played painfree since the most recent Georgia Tech game. “It feels good to not worry about the foot but instead how I can help the team,” said Paige, who was honored before the game with teh Skip Prosser Award, which goes to the ACC’s best student-athlete.

Meeks, on the other hand, has not practiced since before the Duke game and Coach Williams doubts he will play.

The Tar Heels, now 22-10, was led by Paige and Brice Johnson’s 17 points each while Jackson scored 12. Boston College, led by Aaron Brown’s 20 points, ends its season at 13-19.

Boxscore

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My official All-ACC ballot differed very slightly from writer’s or coaches’ polls

My official All-ACC ballot had exactly the same first team as both the writer’s poll and the coaches’ poll. Of the 15 players on the first three teams, my ballot had 13 of the same players as the writer’s poll and 14 of the same players as the coaches’ poll. My ballot had NC State’s Trevor Lacey on the second team and UNC’s Marcus Paige on the third team, same […]

My official All-ACC ballot had exactly the same first team as both the writer’s poll and the coaches’ poll. Of the 15 players on the first three teams, my ballot had 13 of the same players as the writer’s poll and 14 of the same players as the coaches’ poll.

My ballot had NC State’s Trevor Lacey on the second team and UNC’s Marcus Paige on the third team, same as the writer’s poll but the opposite of the coaches’ poll.

Trevor Lacey.

Trevor Lacey.

Probably the biggest difference I had with the two polls was my exclusion of Virginia’s Justin Anderson, who was picked on the second team of both the writer’s and coaches’ poll. I struggled with excluding Anderson, who midway through the season looked like a player of the year candidate. But he was injured for a month and I put a great emphasis on how players did during the conference season, of which he missed a lot.

My other general bias is for upperclassmen over freshmen, which could help explain why I chose Notre Dame Senior Jerian Grant as the ACC player of the year rather than Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor.

Also, I did not have Duke freshman Tyus Jones on my team, although I had him on the All-Freshman team. He was third team on both the writer’s and coaches’ poll. Instead, I had Pitt sophomore Jamel Artis on my third team. Artis leads Pitt in scoring – 13.8 overall and 16.1 in ACC games. He gets six rebounds a game, has an 80 percent conversion rate from the line, 48 percent from the floor and the forward has hit 40 percent of his threes. He is ending the season strong by scoring in double figures each of the last 16 games, averaging 18.5 points per game during that stretch.

The only other discrepancy I had with the writer’s poll (and the coaches’ poll for that matter) is that I had Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije on my third team. Gbinije is 11th in the ACC in scoring at 15.1 points per game, is 9th in field goal percentage at 45.4, is first in steals at 2.1 a game, is second in three-point percentage at 43.4, is 10th in the number of threes made plus he hauls in 5.6 rebounds a game and dishes out 3.9 assists per game.

I suspected he might not make many others’ ballot but I had hoped he would get the most improved player award but that went to Rakeem Christmas, who was also honored with first-team All-ACC and the Defensive Player of the Year. While I also voted for Christmas for first team and for defense, I thought the fact that Gbinije was coming off the bench last year gave him a slight edge for most improved player. Christmas was certainly improved offensively but he was just as excellent defensively last year.

The coaches chose Virginia’s Mike Tobey as the winner of the Sixth Man Award and that makes sense as he played for the best team in regular season and scored 7.2 points with 5.2 rebounds in 18 minutes a game. I don’t like to see players penalized for not being on the best team in the regular season so I went with Charles Mitchell of Georgia Tech, who had better numbers. Mitchell scored 9.6 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game in 22 minutes per game.

The only vote I regret is leaving Virginia’s Malcolm Brogden off the All-Defensive team. He is a lock-down defender and I should have rewarded him for that rather than simply going by numbers. I had Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton on the team instead – I weighted very heavily that he was second in the league in defensive rebounds. While Connaughton was deserving of being mentioned, Brogden should have been on my team. But, he didn’t need my vote anyway and, again, Connaughton got mentioned.

MY ACSMA ACC AWARDS BALLOT
First Team All-ACC
Jerian Grant – Guard – Notre Dame
Jahlil Okafor – Center – Duke
Rakeem Christmas – Center – Syracuse
Olivier Hanlan – Guard – Boston College
Malcolm Brogdon – Guard – Virginia

Second Team All-ACC
Quinn Cook – Guard – Duke
Montrezl Harrell – Forward – Louisville
Terry Rozier – Guard – Louisville
Brice Johnson – Forward – North Carolina
Trevor Lacey – Guard – NC State

Third Team All-ACC
Jamel Artis – Forward – Pittsburgh
Pat Connaughton – Guard/Forward – Notre Dame
Marcus Paige – Guard – North Carolina
Anthony Gill – Forward – Virginia
Michael Gbinije – Forward – Syracuse

ACC All-Defensive team
Rakeem Christmas – Center – Syracuse
BeeJay Anya – Forward/Center – NC State
Tonye Jekiri – Forward – Miami
Montrezl Harrell – Forward – Louisville
Pat Connaughton – Guard/Forward – Notre Dame

ACC All-Freshman team
Jahlil Okafor – Center – Duke
Xavier Rathan-Mayes – Guard – Florida State
Tyus Jones – Guard – Duke
Justise Winslow – Forward – Duke
Justin Jackson – Guard – North Carolina

ACC Player of the Year
Jerian Grant – Guard – Notre Dame

ACC Rookie of the Year
Jahlil Okafor – Center

ACC Coach of the Year
Tony Bennett – Coach – Virginia

ACC Defensive Player of the Year
Rakeem Christmas – Center – Syracuse

ACC Most Improved Player
Michael Gbinije – Forward – Syracuse

ACC Sixth Man of the Year
Charles Mitchell – Forward – Georgia Tech

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UNC whistleblower to speak about big-time college sports Wednesday

cheatedbookUNC professor of history Jay Smith and UNC whistleblower Mary Willingham will discuss their research for their recent book at the March 11 meeting of the Raleigh Sports Club. A capacity crowd is expected and doors open at 11 a.m.

Their book is titled, “Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports” and it exposes what they call “the fraudulent inner workings” at UNC-Chapel Hill. They say athletes earned dubious degrees while faculty and administrators looked the other way. They make an impassioned argument that the “student-athletes” in these programs are being cheated out of what, after all, was promised them in the first place: a college education.

Hopefully, someone will ask what responsibility there is for those Universities that admit students that they know can’t or are unlikely to be able to make the grade. Also, hopefully the two will discuss athletes who don’t really want an education but instead want to help their future plans to play sports professionally.

Perhaps they will also address how more than half of those who took advantage of the African-American studies courses in question were not athletes and maybe their research will show how many of those were admitted as exceptions. It will also be interesting to hear what motivation the professors and others in that department had for ensuring that the athletes passed their grade. Was it driven by seeing Carolina do well in sports or was it something else? Since coaches and the athletic department don’t appear to be the driving forces, it makes one wonder.

The club meets at Bradley Hall in Highland United Methodist Church at 1901 Ridge Road. Buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. and the meeting is from noon until 1 p.m. Attendance fee for members is $15 while guest fee is $25.

Chris Clemons, a basketball player at Millbrook High School, will be honored as the RSC’s Student Athlete of the Week.

The annual membership fee is $70, which helps to fund the club’s scholarship fund. Each week from late August to early April meetings include a Southern buffet, door prizes, pick sheets and introduction to a deserving Student Athlete as well as hearing from a prominent sports figure as our guest speaker.

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Coaches’ All-ACC first team mirrors writer’s poll while Paige, Lacey switch spots

Marcus Paige.

Marcus Paige.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the 2015 All-ACC Team, as voted upon by the league’s 15 head coaches, Monday and the first team is exactly the same as the ACC basketball writer’s poll that came out Saturday. However, UNC’s Marcus Paige moves up to the second team on the coaches’ poll while NC State’s Trevor Lacey falls to the third team.

Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor, Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant, Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas, Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon and Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan comprise the first team.

Duke’s Okafor, a 6-foot-11 center from Chicago, ranks second among ACC scorers at 17.6 points per game and third in rebounding at 9.2 per contest. Okafor has scored 10 or more points in 29 of his 30 games coming into this week’s New York Life ACC Tournament, and his 11 “double doubles” in points/rebounds rank fourth in the conference.

Notre Dame’s Grant leads the ACC in assists at 6.7 per game, in assists-to-turnover ratio (3.23:1) and in fifth in scoring at 16.8 points per game. The 6-foot-5 guard from Bowie, Maryland, closed the season with a 19-point, eight-assist, five-rebound effort in an 81-67 victory over Clemson Saturday and has scored in double-figures in all but three games this season.

Syracuse’s Christmas led the Orange and ranks third among ACC scorers at 17.5 points per game and is fourth in rebounding at 9.1 boards per contest. In addition, the 6-foot-9 senior from Philadelphia, is second in the ACC with 2.5 blocked shots per game and fifth in field goal percentage (.552).

Virginia’s Brogdon, a second-team selection a year ago, leads the second-ranked Cavaliers in scoring at 13.7 points per game and is second in assists at 2.6 per game. The 6-foot-5 Atlanta, Georgia, junior is averaging 4.0 rebounds per game and is second in the ACC in free throw percentage at .860.

Boston College’s Hanlan leads the ACC in scoring at 19.4 points per game and is ninth in assists at 4.2 per game. The Aylmer, Quebec, junior closed out the regular season having scored in double figures 24 straight games and has scored 10-or-more points in all but one game this season.

Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell (15.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and Terry Rozier (17.0 ppg, 2.0 steals), Duke’s Quinn Cook (16.0 ppg, .885 FT percentage), North Carolina’s Marcus Paige (13.5 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Virginia’s Justin Anderson (13.4 ppg, .484 3-point field goal percentage) were voted to the second team.

NC State’s Trevor Lacey (16.1 ppg) was voted to the third team, along with Duke’s Tyus Jones (11.8 ppg, 5.7 apg), Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton (12.6 ppg), Pitt’s Jamel Artis (13.8) ppg) and North Carolina’s Brice Johnson (12.6 ppg).

First Team All-ACC
Olivier Hanlan, Jr., Boston College
Jahlil Okafor, Fr., Duke
Jerian Grant, Sr., Notre Dame
Rakeem Christmas, Sr. Syracuse
Malcolm Brogdon, Jr., Virginia

Second Team All-ACC
Quinn Cook, Sr., Duke
Montrezl Harrell, Jr., Louisville
Terry Rozier, So., Louisville
Marcus Paige, Jr., North Carolina
Justin Anderson, Jr., Virginia

Third Team All-ACC
Tyus Jones, Fr., Duke
Brice Johnson, Jr., North Carolina
Trevor Lacey, Jr., NC State
Pat Connaughton, Sr., Notre Dame
Jamel Artis, So., Pitt

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Two Tar Heels, one Blue Devil make women’s All-ACC team

Elizabeth Williams.

Elizabeth Williams.

The 2014-15 All-ACC Women’s Basketball Team, selected by the league’s 15 head coaches, was announced Monday and there are two Tar Heels and one Blue Devil on the first team.

Notre Dame, which repeated as both ACC Women’s Tournament and ACC regular season champion, placed junior guard Jewell Loyd and freshman forward Brianna Turner on the first team. North Carolina also had two first-team selections in sophomore guard Allisha Gray and sophomore forward Stephanie Mavunga. Also earning a spot is Duke senior post player Elizabeth Williams.

Florida State junior center Adut Bulgak, Georgia Tech sophomore guard Kaela Davis, Miami sophomore guard Adrienne Motley, Pitt senior guard Brianna Kiesel and Wake Forest senior forward Dearica Hamby round out the 10-member first team.

The All-ACC Second Team featured Florida State sophomore guard Leticia Romero, Louisville freshman guard Mariya Moore and senior center Sara Hammond, Syracuse sophomore guard Alexis Peterson and Virginia junior guard Faith Randolph.

Notre Dame’s Turner, Dukes’ Azurá Stevens, Louisville’s Moore and and Myisha Hines-Allen were also voted to the five-member All-ACC Freshman Team, along with Florida State forward Shakayla Thomas.

Notre Dame’s Loyd, Duke’s Williams and Wake Forest’s Hamby are all repeat first-team selections from last season. Georgia Tech’s Davis was named to the second team in 2014 and was also a member of last years’ All-ACC Freshman Team, along with UNC’s Gray and Miami’s Motley.

Loyd has averaged an ACC-leading 20.5 points per game and handed out 3.1 assists per contest while leading the Fighting Irish to a 31-2 season that included a 15-1 mark in ACC regular-season play and a second straight ACC title. Turner has averaged 13.8 points in her first collegiate season while shooting an ACC-best .667 from the floor and pulling down 7.8 rebounds per game.

Georgia Tech’s Davis ranks second among ACC scorers at 19.4 points per game while knocking down 65 shots from 3-point range and shooting .743 from the foul line. Wake Forest’s Hamby has averaged a double-double, ranking third in the ACC in both scoring (20.3 ppg) and rebounding (10.7 rpg).

Pitt’s Kiesel has stepped up to average 18.2 points per game for the Panthers while ranking second among conference players in assists at 4.6 per game. Miami’s Motley ranks sixth among ACC scorers at 16.4 points per game while shooting nearly 49 percent from the floor.

Duke’s Williams has again proven to be a multi-dimensional force, averaging 14.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 rebounds per contest. Florida State’s Bulgak has been a major player in the Seminoles’ stellar 29-4 season, ranking fourth among ACC rebounders at 9.8 per game while scoring at a 12.5 ppg clip, shooting .493 from the floor and blocking nearly two shots per game.

UNC’s Gray ranks among the ACC’s top 10 in both scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rp). Mavunga averages 14.2 points per game for the Tar Heels and also ranks among ACC rebounders at 9.4 per contest.

The All-ACC second team features the ACC’s leader in free-throw percentage in Virginia’s Randolph (.907) and the leader in steals in Syracuse’s Peterson (2.4 per game). Louisville’s Moore ranks sixth among ACC assist leaders (3.7) while scoring close to 14 points per game, while Hammond is scoring 10.8 points per game whole pulling down 6.5 rebounds per contest. Romero, a Kansas State transfer who became eligible to play for Florida State in late December, ranks second on the Seminoles in assists with 103 despite missing the first 13 game of the season. She averages 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds.

Florida State’s Thomas has been an immediate impact freshman, shooting nearly 53 percent from the floor while averaging 9.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. Louisville’s Hines-Allen ranks second on her team in scoring a 11.5 ppg while pulling down 4.8 rebounds per contest. Duke’s Stevens averages 14.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

The ACC coaches also selected an All-ACC Defensive Team, and all five of this year’s selections were also named first- or second-team All-ACC – Duke’s Williams, Notre Dame’s Loyd and Turner, Pitt’s Kiesel and Syracuse’s Peterson. Williams is the ACC’s second four-time All-Defensive Team joining former Duke great and ACC Legend Alana Beard.

2015 All-ACC Team (as selected by the Head Coaches)

First Team

Elizabeth Williams, Sr., C/F, Duke
Adut Bulgak, Jr., C, Florida State
Kaela Davis, So., G, Georgia Tech
Adrienne Motley, So., G, Miami
Allisha Gray, So., G, North Carolina
Stephanie Mavunga, So., F, North Carolina
Jewell Loyd, Jr., G, Notre Dame
Brianna Turner, Fr., F, Notre Dame
Brianna Kiesel, Sr., G, Pitt
Dearica Hamby, Sr., F, Wake Forest

Second Team

Leticia Romero, So., G, Florida State
Sara Hammond, Sr., F, Louisville
Mariya Moore, Fr., G, Louisville
Alexis Peterson, So., G, Syracuse
Faith Randolph, Jr., G, Virginia

2015 All-ACC Freshman Team

Azura Stevens, Fr., F/G, Duke
Shakayla Thomas, Fr., F, Florida State
Mariya Moore, Fr., G, Louisville
Myisha Hines-Allen, Fr., F, Louisville
Brianna Turner, Fr., F, Notre Dame


2015 ACC All-Defensive Team

Elizabeth Williams, Sr., C/F, Duke
Jewell Loyd, Jr., G, Notre Dame
Brianna Turner, Fr., F, Notre Dame
Brianna Kiesel, Sr., G, Pitt
Alexis Peterson, So., G, Syracuse

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Okafor heads All-ACC Basketball Team; Paige makes 3rd team

Okafor.

Okafor.

Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor and Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant lead the 2014-15 All-ACC Basketball Team, as voted upon by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

Okafor was also named ACC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.

Okafor and Grant, both unanimous selections, are joined on the first team by Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas, Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon and Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan.

Duke’s Okafor, a 6-foot-11 center from Chicago, ranks second among ACC scorers at 17.6 points per game and third in rebounding at 9.2 per contest. Okafor has scored 10 or more points in 29 of his 30 games coming into this week’s New York Life ACC Tournament, and his 11 “double doubles” in points/rebounds rank fourth in the conference.

Notre Dame’s Grant leads the ACC in assists at 6.7 per game and in assists-to-turnover ratio (3.23:1) and is fifth in scoring at 16.8 points per game. The 6-foot-5 guard from Bowie, Maryland, closed the season with a 19-point, eight-assist, five-rebound effort in an 81-67 victory over Clemson Saturday and has scored in double-figures in all but three games this season.

Syracuse’s Christmas led the Orange and ranks third among ACC scorers at 17.5 points per game and is fourth in rebounding at 9.1 boards per contest. In addition, the 6-foot-9 senior from Philadelphia, is second in the ACC with 2.5 blocked shots per game and fifth in field goal percentage (.552).

Virginia’s Brogdon, a second-team selection a year ago, leads the second-ranked Cavaliers in scoring at 13.7 points per game and is second in assists at 2.6 per game. The 6-foot-5 Atlanta, Georgia, junior is averaging 4.0 rebounds per game and is second in the ACC in free throw percentage at .860.

Boston College’s Hanlan, a third-team choice last season, leads the ACC in scoring at 19.4 points per game and is ninth in assists at 4.2 per game. The Aylmer, Quebec, junior closed out the regular season having scored in double figures 24 straight games and has scored 10-or-more points in all but one game this season.

Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell (15.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and Terry Rozier (17.0 ppg, 2.0 steals), Duke’s Quinn Cook (16.0 ppg, .885 FT percentage), NC State’s Trevor Lacey (16.1 ppg) and Virginia’s Justin Anderson (13.4 ppg, .484 3-point field goal percentage) were voted to the second team.

North Carolina’s Marcus Paige (13.5 ppg, 4.4 apg) was the leading vote-getter on the third team. Paige is joined by Duke’s Tyus Jones (11.8 ppg, 5.7 apg), Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton (12.6 ppg), Virginia’s Anthony Gill (11.6 ppg) and North Carolina’s Brice Johnson (12.6 ppg).

Duke’s Okafor earns unanimous recognition

USBWA Freshman of the Year finalists Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, all of Duke, headline the five-member 2014-15 All-ACC Freshman Team as selected by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

The Blue Devil trio is joined by Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes and North Carolina’s Justin Jackson.

Duke’s Okafor, a 6-foot-11 center from Chicago, ranks second among ACC scorers at 17.6 points per game and third in rebounding at 9.2 per contest. Okafor has scored 10 or more points in 29 of his 30 games coming into this week’s ACC Tournament, and his 11 “double doubles” in points/rebounds rank fourth in the conference.

Jones leads the ACC in free throw percentage (.882) and is second in assists (5.7) while Winslow is averaging 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds, and along with Jones, has started all 31 games of the year for the third-ranked Blue Devils.

Florida State’s Xavier-Mayes has scored 20 or more points seven times this season, including two 35-point efforts and leads the Seminoles, and ranks second among all ACC freshmen, in both scoring (14.4) and assists (4.4).

North Carolina’s Jackson closed out the regular season averaging 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds over his last five games. On the year in 31 games, including 30 starts, Jackson is fourth on the team in scoring (10.1) and third in assists (2.5).

Syracuse’s Christmas, Virginia’s Brogdon lead voting by ACC media members

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The conference’s second-leading shot-blocker and two Virginia standouts are among the five players voted to the 2014-15 All-ACC Defensive Team announced by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) on Sunday.

Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas, who leads all active ACC players with 247 career blocked shots, was named on 58 of the 64 ballots, while Virginia junior Malcom Brogdon received 50 votes and Darion Atkins was on 38 ballots.

Also named to the defensive team are Miami Junior Tonye Jekiri (38 votes) and NC State’s BeeJay Anya (29 votes).

Brogdon and Atkins have played major roles in a stifling Virginia defense that leads the nation in scoring defense (50.2) and ranks third in field goal percentage defense (.357).

Miami’s Jekiri, the ACC’s leading rebounder at 10.2 rebounds per game, is fourth in the ACC at 1.5 blocked shots per game.

NC State’s Anya has blocked at least one shot in 28 of his 31 games and leads the ACC and ranks 20th nationally in blocked shots per game, averaging 2.7 per game.

2014-15 ACSMA All-ACC Teams
(First place votes in parenthesis, followed by total points)

First Team All-ACC
Jahlil Okafor, Fr., Duke (64) 320
Jerian Grant, Sr., Notre Dame (64) 320
Rakeem Christmas, Gr. Syracuse (51) 294
Malcolm Brogdon, Jr., Virginia (53) 293
Olivier Hanlan, Jr., Boston College (29) 246

Second Team All-ACC
Montrezl Harrell, Jr., Louisville (21) 220
Quinn Cook, Sr., Duke (23) 219
Terry Rozier, So., Louisville (2) 154
Trevor Lacey, Jr., NC State (2) 123
Justin Anderson, Jr., Virginia (5) 106

Third Team All-ACC
Marcus Paige, Jr., North Carolina (4) 97
Tyus Jones, Fr., Duke (2) 89
Pat Connaughton, Sr., Notre Dame 45
Anthony Gill, Jr., Virginia 42
Brice Johnson, Jr., North Carolina 40

Honorable Mention
Jamel Artis, So., Pittsburgh 33
Tonye Jekiri, Jr., Miami 32
London Perrantes, So., Virginia 31
Sheldon McClellan, Jr., Miami 31
Justise Winslow, Fr., Duke 29
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Fr., Florida State 24
Michael Young, So., Pittsburgh 14
Angel Rodriguez, Jr., Miami 13
Codi Miller-McIntyre, Jr., Wake Forest 12
Kennedy Meeks, So.,North Carolina 10

2014-15 ACSMA All-ACC Freshman Team

Jahlil Okafor, Duke, *64
Tyus Jones, Duke, 62
Justise Winslow, Duke, 59
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State, 57
Justin Jackson, North Carolina, 22
*denotes unanimous

ACSMA 2014-15 All-ACC Defensive Team
Rakeem Christmas, Gr., Syracuse, 58
Malcolm Brogdon, Jr., Virginia, 50
Darion Atkins, Sr., Virginia, 38
Tonye Jekiri, Jr., Miami, 38
BeeJay Anya, So., NC State, 29

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UNC turns it over, Duke turns it around

Tyus Jones.

Tyus Jones.

North Carolina, leading by two at the half and by seven with fewer than 15 minutes to play, turned the ball over and Duke turned it around with a 14-2 run from which the Tar Heels never recovered. The Blue Devils went on to ruin UNC’s senior night with an 84-77 victory.

With the win, Duke, with 24 points from Tyus Jones and 20 points from Quinn Cook, swept the regular season series.

It didn’t look that way for much of the game. The Smith Center was rocking after Marcus Paige drilled a transition three to give the Tar Heels their biggest lead at 49-42 with 14:35 left.

But after that, the Tar Heels went cold, hitting just one of their next six shots, and turning the ball over, time and time again (10 times in the second half). Meanwhile, Duke, with Justice Winslow in foul trouble and Tyus Jones playing with a back injured during the game, took over.

Bench players Matt Jones and Grayson Allen hit consecutive threes that put the Blue Devils ahead 56-51 midway through the second half.

Three times the Tar Heels pulled within a point but if a turnover didn’t spoil the chance to take a lead, a Blue Devil triple did.

After a Carolina turnover, Tyus Jones hit a three to put Duke up 65-59 and then, after another turnover, Quinn Cook hit a three to put the Devils up 68-59 with 6:18 left.

“We had a tough stretch in there with three straight turnovers and all of a sudden it’s a nine-point game,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “They’re really good. But we played pretty doggone well except for a four of five minute stretch there.”

It was a even game statistically, except Duke got to the foul line more (21 made, compared to 13 for Carolina) and turned the ball over less (10 compared to 15 for Carolina).

Paige, who played poorly in the loss at Duke, played better in this game, scoring 23 to lead the Tar Heels. Brice Johnson had 17, Justin Jackson 14 and JP Tokoto scored 10 although he also had four turnovers.

To start the game, the Blue Devils hit their first five shots including threes by Tyus Jones and Cook, the same two that killed the Tar Heels in Durham. Just five minutes in, Duke had a double-digit lead at 18-8.

An 8-0 run, highlighted by a Justin Jackson three and a Brice Johnson old-fashioned three-point play, got the Tar Heels back in it.

Threes by Nate Britt and Paige erased a 24-20 Duke lead and gave Carolina its first lead since the first basket of the game at 26-24.

The Tar Heels got the lead to six before settling for a 33-31 halftime lead. It looked as if it would be another one of those games that came down to the last minute. But this one was really never in doubt over the last six minutes although a Paige three with 45 seconds left drew the Heels to within five and they had a chance to cut it to three or two before once again turning the ball over.

Coach Williams said he had to do a better job of getting his team to focus but he’s running out of time with only the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament left.

The Tar Heels, 21-10 and 11-7 in the league, are the fifth seed in the ACC tournament and will play Wednesday afternoon against the winner of Boston College and Georgia Tech. No. 2 seeded Duke, 28-3 and 15-3 in the ACC, gets a bye until the quarterfinals on Thursday.

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Hatchell wins 9th annual Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award

Sylvia Hatchell.

Sylvia Hatchell.

University of North Carolina women ‘s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is the winner of the ninth annual Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Only weeks after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in October 2013, Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia and was forced to miss the entire 2013-14 season. After undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments that lasted until March 2014, she was cleared to return to the bench for the 2014-15 season. As of February 20th, Hatchell’s Tar Heels were 21-6, 8-5 in the ACC.

Hatchell said, “ I’m honored and humbled by this award, and it’s even more special, because I knew Bob Bradley.” On her battle with leukemia, Hatchell said, “It’s tough. It’s hard. But you can beat it. Every day is a blessing. Now, I try to support others who have leukemia, because I know how important it is to have that support.”

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said, “The resiliency that Coach Hatchell displayed in her fight against leukemia was truly inspiring. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this award. “She continues to be a role model for others that are currently battling the disease.”

A native of Gastonia, NC, Hatchell graduated cum laude from Carson-Newman College in 1974. She began her college coaching career at Francis Marion, where her Patriot teams went 272-80 over 11 seasons, including a 36-2 record in 1986, when they won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship.

Hatchell is in her 29th season at North Carolina and 40th overall. As of February 20th, her UNC teams were 684-259. Hatchell’s 1993-94 UNC team won the NCAA national championship. Overall her teams have won 956 games and lost 339.

Hatchell and her husband Sammy have been married since 1979. Their son Van is a former UNC men’s basketball player and a graduate of UNC.

ACSMA will present Hatchell with the Bradley Award during the ACC Women’s Tournament in Greensboro, NC.

A joint venture of the ACC and ACSMA, the Bradley Award is given annually in memory of the longtime sports information director at Clemson University whose positive attitude inspired all who knew him as he battled cancer. The distinction goes to an ACC student-athlete, coach or administrator in men’s or women’s basketball who has overcome significant hardship to contribute to his or her team.