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Miami completes its ACC title sweep
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Based on its performance at the ACC tournament, No. 9 Miami should be a formidable NCAA tournament opponent, though the Selection Committee might have given it even more incentive to make a deep postseason run.
The Hurricanes won three games in three days down on Tobacco Road over the weekend and capped off the tournament with a convincing 87–77 win over North Carolina in the championship game Sunday at Greensboro Coliseum.
Miami (27–6) became the first ACC team from outside of North Carolina to win an outright regular-season title and tournament championship in the same season.
Unfortunately, it also became the first ACC team to win both championships and not earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. The Hurricanes are a No. 2 seed in the East Region and will take on 15th-seeded Pacific on Friday in Austin, Texas.
Opposing coaches and players in the ACC know how tough it is to face off against the Hurricanes. They beat the Tar Heels three times this season by a combined 45 points.
“They won the regular season, and they validated it by winning a conference tournament as well, and it’s just been a great, great year. They’re really a big-time basketball team,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.
The Hurricanes and Tar Heels (24–10) matched each other shot for shot for more than 30 minutes before Miami broke away at the end.
The Canes claimed their first ever ACC tournament championship and handed the Tar Heels their record third straight loss in the title game.
Miami sophomore guard Shane Larkin had a career-high 28 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Hurricanes senior guard Trey McKinnie–Jones had a career-high 20 points, and Julian Gamble had 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Miami, only the 10th team from outside of North Carolina to ever win an ACC tournament championship, and UNC waged an exciting battle until about the midway point of the second half, when the Tar Heels seemed to run out of gas. There were 15 lead changes and 10 ties, and the two teams combined to make an ACC tournament record 25 3-point shots between them.
“I thought the first half was about as high a level of basketball I’ve seen all year long,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
UNC sophomore guard P.J. Hairston, less than 48 hours removed from suffering a gruesome cut to his left hand in a quarterfinal win over Florida State, made six 3-pointers and scored a team-high 28 points.
With tape wrapped around his stitched up non-shooting hand, Hairston went on a tear. He scored points in bunches and kept the Tar Heels, who lost by 26 at Miami back on Feb. 9, in the shootout with the high-powered Hurricanes.
“We wanted to come out today and play with the intensity that we haven’t played with against Miami, that Miami hadn’t seen, and kind of surprise them,” Hairston said. “We came out and played for 40 minutes and they just made big plays toward the end and converted off our mistakes.”
Miami (12 for 22) and North Carolina (13 for 29) both hit 3-point field goals at a staggering rate, but while the Tar Heels trailed off at the end, making only one of their last eight 3-point attempts, the Hurricanes were able to maintain their torrid pace.
At one point, McKinnie–Jones, who had six 3-point baskets, laughed as he ran back up the court after one of North Carolina’s made 3-pointers.
“All I could do is laugh at that point, nobody was missing,” McKinnie–Jones said.
There’s no missing this: The Hurricanes appear to be a team to be reckoned with in the NCAA tournament.
“There is nothing that will beat us if we just stay together,” Hurricanes senior guard Durand Scott said. “That’s what we did [Sunday], and we came away with a victory, and we will continue to do that.”
Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442