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No. 7 Virginia visits Duke in season’s lone ACC meeting

February 19, 2021 GMT
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Duke's Matthew Hurt (21) shoots against North Carolina State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)
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Duke's Matthew Hurt (21) shoots against North Carolina State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

A look at the upcoming weekend around the Atlantic Coast Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND

No. 7 Virginia (15-4, 11-2) at Duke (9-8, 7-6), on Saturday, in the season’s lone meeting between the teams. The first-place Cavaliers look to rebound from Monday night’s 81-60 loss at No. 16 Florida State and maintain their winning percentage likely to determine conference tournament seeding. Virginia also aims to bounce back defensively after allowing FSU to shoot 50% overall and from long range. The Blue Devils seek their third consecutive conference win to improve their conference winning percentage and maintain slim NCAA Tournament prospects. They return home after consecutive wins at North Carolina State and Wake Forest by least 16 points each. Duke has recently turned up the defense by holding Wake to 39% shooting — without star freshman Jalen Johnson, who on Monday opted out of the rest of the season to focus on preparing for the NBA draft — and NC State to a season-low 53 points.

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MORE ADJUSTMENTS

Second-place FSU (12-3, 8-2) was scheduled to host No. 18 Virginia Tech (14-4, 8-3) on Saturday night in search of its second ranked win this week. That contest was postponed because of a positive test within the Hokies’ program. The Seminoles will instead visit Pitt — which was scheduled to host Clemson on Sunday — in a game originally set for Jan. 9. North Carolina’s matchup Tuesday at Boston College was also postponed, further delaying the debut of interim Eagles coach Scott Spinelli following BC’s firing of Jim Christian on Monday.

IMPACT PLAYER

Clemson senior forward Aamir Simms has averaged 17.6 points and 7.0 rebounds the past five games, helping the Tigers (13-5, 7-5) win their last three and four of five overall after a three-game slide. His 25 points against Georgia Tech in nearly 33 minutes last Friday matched a career high and included 3-of-4 shooting from long range. The 6-foot-8 Simms ranks fourth in ACC shooting at 54% and is tied for 19th in scoring at 13.3 points per game. He recently surpassed 1,000 career points.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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North Carolina shot a season-best 81.3% from the foul line (13 of 16) against Northeastern on Wednesday night, its first effort above 59% in six games and highest percentage since making 25 of 31 (80.6%) against NC Central in December. ... Virginia’s loss at FSU was its largest ACC defeat since a 65-41 loss at UNC on Feb. 18, 2017. Meanwhile, the ’Noles won their fourth of five meetings against the Cavs in Tallahassee. ... Duke sophomore Matthew Hurt posted his seventh 20-point game this season last weekend, making 6 of 7 3-pointers and 8 of 10 shots overall for 24 points against NC State.

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE

Fourth-ranked North Carolina State (13-2, 8-2) can avenge a 76-69 loss to rival North Carolina when the Wolfpack host the Tar Heels on Sunday. Poised on Feb. 7 to supplant No. 1 Louisville following its road victory over the Cardinals, the Wolfpack rallied for a slim lead after three quarters before losing it in the fourth. NC State dominated nearly every statistical category in that meeting but shot just 39%, including 4 of 19 from long range. ... First-place and No. 3 Louisville has won four in a row since losing to NC State. The Cardinals began a closing stretch of three road games Thursday night with an 82-58 win at Pittsburgh that extended the program record of consecutive 20-win seasons to 11.

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