If one looked at the final score of the Boston College Eagles-Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets first-round ACC Tournament game, they would not know the real story of how the contest unfolded. Two storylines emerged, and both point to exceptionally bright things for the Eagles.
On Thursday afternoon in the 2013 ACC Tournament’s 8/9 game, the Eagles defeated the Yellow Jackets, 84-64. It is Boston College’s fourth-straight win, with consecutive victories over Georgia Tech, moving them back to .500 at 16-16 on the season. BC’s most recent Tournament win before today had been in 2011 against Wake Forest.
The start of the game was extremely bleak for the Eagles, who trailed 15-0 in the opening minutes and saw Patrick Heckmann get into very early foul trouble. That was freshman guard Olivier Hanlan’s cue to take the game over, and he did so in a way that Boston College has not seen in years.
After an Eddie Odio slam dunk got the Eagles on the scoreboard at 15-2, Hanlan helped ignite a BC run to pull the game back to within six. They fell behind again by a 28-14 margin, but then Hanlan re-emerged and thanks to the three-pointer, Boston College was able to claw all the way back to a tie and eventually take a 5-point lead (38-33) at halftime, despite having trailed by double-digit margins earlier. Hanlan had 21 points at the break to lead all scorers by far.
In the second, Olivier Hanlan remained in firm control of the game. Making his last twelve shot attempts in a row, he scored 20 more to net a grand total of 41 points on the afternoon. This set an ACC Tournament record for a freshman in a single game and was the most points scored by any ACC player in an individual game this season. According to David Teel, Hanlan has also had the best single-game point performance of any ACC freshman ever. He is to date the only player in the conference this season to have scored 40+ points in a game. Numbers-wise and by the eye test, Hanlan’s game against Georgia Tech was the best individual performance by a Boston College basketball player since Tyrese Rice dropped 46 points on North Carolina on national television in 2008.
This was a game in which Boston College trailed by 15-0 right out of the gate; they ended up winning by 20, and it could have been many more. Towards the end, Georgia Tech did not appear to be playing as tough and were content to let the contest end, while the Eagles let Hanlan reach the 40-point plateau before sitting him for tomorrow’s game.
Even if BC loses to 1-seed Miami in tomorrow’s quarterfinals, Boston College has now gotten to the point where they have achieved their goals. It was not pretty getting there, but they have done the minimum they needed to do this year. The Eagles have improved from 9 wins to 16 and can also say they have won an ACC Tournament game. Anything they do from this point on would be a bonus, and realistically, beating Miami (which will be a difficult task) to get to 17-16 could put them back in the conversation for an NIT bid. That would be a huge improvement over where BC was this time last season.
Tomorrow might not be nearly as favorable for Boston College, but today, Eagles fans can celebrate.
The Eagles face the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday at noon Eastern.