A decisive Boston College men’s basketball victory in the opening round of the ACC Tournament is promising for Eagles fans, considering that BC limped into the postseason. The 12th-seeded Eagles defeated 13th-seeded Georgia Tech on Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn, N.Y. by a final score of 87-77. BC (18-14, 7-11 Atlantic Coast), which lost four of its final five regular season games, really needed a good showing against weaker competition in order to prove its worth. A team that started off looking like a dark horse in the ACC finished about where it was expected to land in the preseason, toward the bottom of the conference standings. The team that defeated GT (13-19, 6-12), however, showed a fire that was simply lacking as ACC play came to a close.
1) Ky Bowman Shines Again
Ky Bowman has arguably been one of the best guards in the ACC this season, averaging 16.9 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the field, to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He, along with Jerome Robinson, led the Eagles to almost all of their victories and was undoubtedly a go-to scoring option. At times, he was overshadowed by Robinson—the runner-up for the ACC Player of the Year award—but Bowman was still trusted with the ball in big-time moments, and he showed why against GT. The sophomore recorded 26 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists in what was an absolutely stat-stuffing afternoon. He did a little bit of everything, including converting and-one scoring plays on back-to-back possessions, lifting the maroon and gold in the Barclays Center, and, in turn, quieting the Yellow Jacket faithful.
2) Role Player Production
For the second-straight game, BC’s role players actually made an impact. Throughout the season, there has been a lot of talk about how Robinson, Bowman, and Jordan Chatman are the only three Eagles who can put the ball on the floor. Tuesday afternoon served as a perfect rebuttal to that statement. Almost every member of the team contributed, both offensively and defensively. Nik Popovic shot an efficient 8-of-11, logging a career-high 20 points, while Steffon Mitchell added 11 rebounds, and Vin Baker Jr. even contributed a pair of timely blocks. The Eagles have averaged 76.2 points per game this season, with Robinson and Bowman posting a combined 37.9. Yet, when the Eagles’ supporting cast came into its own on Tuesday, BC nearly eclipsed the 90-point mark.
3) Dominating the Boards
The Eagles looked strong on the glass, gobbling up 47 rebounds, compared to GT’s 37. The disparity speaks volumes to how BC pulled out the win. Although the Eagles have significantly improved their rebounding game this year, they’ve rarely manhandled an opponent on the boards like they did against GT. The 10 additional rebounds gifted BC more opportunities on offense and prevented easy second-chance putbacks. There’s no question that the return of Mitchell, who missed the regular season finale with a hamstring contusion, was a big reason why the Eagles had so much success in the paint. After all, the freshman hauled in 10 or more boards for the 11th time this season.
1) 3-Point Shooting Woes
Unlike its previous two games, BC couldn’t buy a perimeter shot in the opening round of the tournament play, making just two of its 14 attempts from downtown—a shade over 14 percent. The Eagles didn’t jack up as many 3-pointers as they’re accustomed to, but when they did fire away from beyond the arc, they were often off the mark. Despite a respectable offensive performance, Chatman, typically a sniper from deep, managed to only sink one of his five 3-point attempts, while Robinson went 1-of-4 from deep. If BC is to knock off North Carolina State on Wednesday or any other high-caliber team, it’ll need to find its rhythm from long range.
2) Turnover Margin
Plain and simple, this was a sloppy game of basketball on both sides of the court. There were a total of 30 turnovers, 17 of which belonged to BC. Like last year, only to a lesser degree, the Eagles have struggled with ball security this season. BC averages about 13 turnovers per game and allows 13.1 points per game off these turnovers. As prolific as Bowman was, he also coughed up the ball eight times. Since he has the ball in his hands virtually every possession, three or four turnovers are expected—eight, on the other hand, more than crosses the line. Both Bowman and Robinson have to make protecting the rock a priority if BC is to advance to the quarterfinals.
3) Near Capitulation
This game should not have been as close as it was. With four minutes to go, the Eagles were winning by 17 points. That lead quickly evaporated to seven with two minutes remaining in regulation. The Eagles worked their way back to a 13-point advantage in a minute, only to see it get cut down seven in all of 15 seconds. While the 10-point victory may look substantial on paper, Tuesday’s game really did go down to the wire. Missed free throws and lazy passes nearly cost BC the contest and perhaps the season. Although GT didn’t take advantage of all of the Eagles’ mistakes, there’s no doubt that better teams like N.C. State will make head coach Jim Christian and Co. pay for that kind of collapse.
Featured Image by Frank Franklin II / AP Photo