Boston College easily defeated Virginia 76-63 in the opening round of the ACC Conference Tournament. Just a few hours earlier the last place Georgia Tech squad upset Clemson but the Eagles managed to avoid the upset in round one. BC will advance to the quarterfinals for a re-match against the Duke Blue Devils Friday night with tip off slated for 9pm.
On a night when senior leader Tyrese Rice was held to just one field goal the Eagles got big contributions from budding star Rakim Sanders (career-high 25 points) and an unlikely hero in Josh Southern (13 points).
This was hardly an exciting or emotional game for either. Virginia looked lackadaisical all night and Boston College simply made fewer mistakes.
BC grinded it out offensively by scoring points in the paint and sinking 31 free throws. The Eagles managed just one three-pointer in the game, a season low for them.
Boston College grabbed an early lead in the first half and led throughout the contest. BC built a double-digit lead at 25-15 lead with nine minutes left to play in the half. A layup from Rakim Sanders would close out the half for BC with a comfortable 37-25 lead.
The second half was much of the same as Virginia continued to struggle. In the opening minutes of the second period Boston College took a 15-point lead, their biggest lead of the game, following back-to-back layups from Southern and Joe Trapani.
Boston College would then go the next four minutes without a field goal enabling Virginia to chip away at the lead. The Eagles' lead was down to just seven points before Rakim Sanders finally stopped the bleeding with a layup. Sanders' basket was part of his six point scoring streak that put BC ahead 51-38 with 11 minutes remaining in the contest.
Joe Trapani connected on BC's first and only three-pointer of the game coming with four minutes left. However, sloppy turnovers and a flurry of Virginia three-pointers would bring the Cavaliers within single digits with fewer than three minutes to play, but it still was not enough to seriously challenge BC's lead. The Eagles would hit their free throws down to stretch to put the game out of reach.
Boston College limited the ACC Freshman of the Year, Sylven Landesberg, to a mere 11 points on 3-9 shooting. The Eagles also forced 20 turnovers in the game as well.
In addition to Sanders' 25 points and Southern's 13 points and nine rebounds, BC got offensive production from Corey Raji and Joe Trapani. Raji scored 11 points while Trapani added 12.
Sanders has emerged as a go-to guy on offense at just the right time for Boston College. He has averaged over 20 points in his last four games. On a night when he was cold from outside, Virginia had no match for his physical play down low and he appeared to be a man among boys as he scored with ease over multiple defenders.
Tyrese Rice had nine points in the game on 1-6 shooting. Rice preferred to run the offense and take a back seat to his teammates on this night. He could afford to do so with Virginia's poor execution, but he will be needed to do much more against the Blue Devils.
Boston College will see a slightly different look from Duke than the last time the two teams squared off. In order to bolster its weak point guard play, Duke has inserted freshman Elliot Williams into the starting rotation and moved Jon Scheyer over the point. Since making this adjustment after the loss in Chestnut Hill the Blue Devils have gone 5-1 losing only to North Carolina. Boston College must be sharper than they showed against UVA in order to upset Duke once again.
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