The Boston College men’s basketball team (9-9, 1-4 ACC) has seen its fair share of close defeats in the last month ACC play. Losing nail-biters to N.C. State and Wake Forest and the Eagles were an Olivier Hanlan free throw away from sending ACC tour-de-force Miami into overtime.
On Jan. 26, BC will look to reverse its recent fortune and capitalize on a Virginia Cavaliers team (12-5, 2-2 ACC) that is ranked 285th in the nation in points per game.
One of the key players BC must shut down in order to come out victorious Saturday afternoon, junior guard Joe Harris, averages 15.2 points per game. In Virginia’s blowout win over Florida State, the 6-foot-6 junior had a hot hand, racking up 17 points and four rebounds.
For BC, the concern lies in the waning minutes of the game. This year’s team has shown the poise and ability to hang with teams for the duration of the first half and part of the second half. Things go awry for this squad in the closing minutes of regulation, unable to close relatively small gaps and pull out the victory.
Crucial to BC’s composure and confidence, Lonnie Jackson and Olivier Hanlan must shoot well for the entirety of the game—especially in the last five minutes. Jackson is averaging 10.3 points per game and has a three-point percentage of .400. He has drained 16 three’s in the past two weeks. Hanlan must shoot well from long-range, but also penetrate the basket to alleviate the pressure put on sophomore forward Ryan Anderson to expose UVA’s formidable interior defense.
After his 18-point performance in the near upset of No. 23 N.C. State, freshman guard Joe Rahon has stalled, failing to break double-digits. BC could really use a strong performance from Rahon to improve their chances of beating UVA. He has displayed glimpses of brilliance and aggression, driving hard to the basket in the N.C. State and Wake Forest games. A similar tenacity would bode well for a BC team that relies mostly on mid-to-long range jumpers.
Dennis Clifford still appears to be ailing from a right ankle injury early in the year. If he can somehow rebound from such a nagging injury, expect the Eagles to play a close game with the Cavaliers. An Eagles offense with a paint presence besides Anderson would do wonders and quite possibly reverse the recent string of unfortunate events.
Coverage: ESPN3 1:00 PM ET, Saturday, Jan. 26