NC native Bowman leads BC into ACC tourney showdown with Wolfpack

Havelock's Ky Bowman scores 26 to lead the Eagles past Georgia Tech, setting up a second-round matchup with NC State on Wednesday

Havelock native Ky Bowman (0) dribbles past Georgia Tech;s Brandon Alston during Boston College's opening round ACC tournament win on Tuesday in Brooklyn (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Ky Bowman has painful memories of his first ACC tournament experience, both from the leg injury that knocked him out of Boston College’s opening round game and the 14-point loss to Wake Forest that ensued.

A year later, the Havelock native returned to Barclays Center determined to make amends.

And did he ever.

The sophomore guard scored 26 points and nearly posted a triple double Tuesday in leading the 12th-seeded Eagles to a first round 87-77 victory against Georgia Tech. The win was BC’s first in three years at the ACC tournament and sets up a second round matchup against No. 5 NC State on Tuesday.

“I knew my opportunity was going to come around again,” Bowman said. “So just being able to come here again and play again was a great feeling for me.”

Bowman scored 16 of his points in the second half, including nine in the first 6½ minutes of the period to lead a 14-4 run that allowed BC (18-14) broke the game open after building a 10-point halftime advantage.

In addition to his scoring, Bowman finished with 10 rebounds and six assists. He also had eight turnovers.

“He’s got the ball a lot, so we depend on him to do a lot of things,” BC coach Jim Christian said of Bowman. “It’s running our offense, it’s being the point of our defense, it’s rebounding the basketball and leading the break.“

Fellow North Carolinian Jerome Robinson of Raleigh added 19 points and seven rebounds to the win that strengthened the Eagles’ resume for a possible NIT bid.

The Eagles, however, aren’t looking that far ahead just yet. They’re locked in on making a quick turnaround and getting another shot at NC State.

In their only regular season meeting, three weeks ago at PNC Arena, the Eagles lost to the Wolfpack 82-66 on a night in which State made 13 straight field goals at one point in the first half and Robinson missed considerable time with an elbow injury.

Bowman, who originally committed to play football at North Carolina before deciding to concentrate on basketball and attend BC, believes his team will have the advantage this time because it has already played a game in the tournament.

The fifth-seeded Wolfpack had an opening round bye after finishing the regular season 21-10.

“I think with us playing today, it just builds off of this,” said Bowman, who averages 16.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Robinson, a first-team All-ACC selection, leads the team in scoring at 20.7 points per game.

“We can build confidence going into the next game,” Bowman said. “It’s just going to help us. Our strategy to win the next game should be higher.”

While there’s something to be said for having already played a game in the tournament while the opposition has not, Christian warned that there’s also a downside to the situation in that he and his staff don’t have a lot of time to prepare for Wednesday’s game.

Not that coach Kevin Keatts’ Wolfpack is an unknown opponent.

“We’ve already played the once,” Christian said. “We know a lot of stuff that they do. We know how they’re going to attack us in certain ways and we’ll be prepared and ready to go. Really, it’s about rest right now.”

State enters the ACC tournament having won five of its last six games and eight of 11. It has won at least one game in five of its last six ACC tournament, with last year’s opening round loss to Clemson being the only blemish.

The Wolfpack is 1-0 all-time against BC in tournament play, having beaten the Eagles 78-57 in Atlanta in 2012. As is the case this year, State was the No. 5 seed and BC was seeded 12th in that game.