By Gregory Hunt
The No. 12-seeded Boston College men’s basketball team (13-18 overall 4-14 ACC), kept its season alive Tuesday with a 66-65 victory over No. 13-seeded Georgia Tech (12-19 overall, 3-15 ACC) in the first round of the ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. BC junior guard Olivier Hanlan was the hero, scoring a game-high 25 points, including a go-ahead jump shot with 10.6 seconds remaining in the game. The Eagles then successfully defended the Yellow Jackets’ final possession to preserve the victory.
“You’ve got to take advantage of opportunities like that,” said Hanlan, explaining why he elected to take advantage of a mismatch off a defensive switch instead of holding for the final shot. “(Georgia Tech) did a pretty good job the whole game, but down the stretch everybody gets tired. That might have been a mistake, switching out on me, but I just tried to take advantage of it.”
Harlan also led the team in rebounds, with eight, and assists, with five. Senior guard Patrick Heckmann added 19 points and five rebounds, while graduate student guard Dimitri Batten added 10 points.
The game was a back-and-forth affair that featured 12 lead changes and seven ties. It was the third year in a row that BC and Georgia Tech had met in the first round of the ACC tournament. The teams split the first two meetings.
The Eagles will now face No. 5-seeded North Carolina Wednesday afternoon in the second round. The Tar Heels earned a first-round bye in this year’s tournament, so they did not place on Tuesday. During the regular season, the teams met on February 7 in front of a crowd of 8,263 at Conte Forum, with Boston College losing 79-68. North Carolina shot 56.9 percent from the field in that game (29-of-51). BC head coach Jim Christian feels that Georgia Tech exposed some of his team’s weaknesses in the paint, so this will need to improve if the Eagles hope to beat the Tar Heels.
“(North Carolina) really hurt us in the paint, just like Georgia Tech did,” said Christian. “We have to fix that. They score in the interior from a lot of different ways. So obviously it’s a lot similar to the way Georgia Tech played. We have to keep them off the boards and try to neutralize them.” North Carolina is 10th in the nation in offensive rebounding.
The Tar Heels (21-10 overall, 11-7 ACC) are currently ranked 19th in the nation in the AP poll. The Eagles are 0-6 against nationally-ranked teams this season. North Carolina has won the ACC tournament 17 times, second all-time to Duke’s 19. The Tar Heels haven’t won the tournament since 2008, but they made three consecutive appearances in the finals from 2011-2013.
“It’s a new season, now,” said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. “We get to go out there and see if we can play our tails off for four days. And if we do, we’ve got a chance to win the whole thing. When we play really well, we’ve got a chance to beat anybody.”
Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He’s also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women’s college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on Examiner.com.