CORAL GABLES, FL - JANUARY 18: DeQuan Jones #5 of the Miami (Fl) Hurricanes dunks over Devin Booker #31 and Catalin Baciu #10 of the Clemson Tigers during a game on January 18, 2012 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
If coffee is for closers, Coach Jim Larranaga needs to open up a Starbucks inside the Canes locker room in the BankUnited Center.
Miami jumped ahead 74-66 with 1:35 to go following a thunderous dunk by Rion Brown on an alley-oop pass from Durand Scott over Clemson's half-court trap. From there, Miami saw Clemson chip the lead away to a single point at 74-73 on a putback by Milton Jennings with 5 seconds to go. The comedic stretch saw a missed layup, a three point play allowed, and a turnover where Trey McKinney Jones inexplicably fell down out of bounds with the ball with :34 left while dribbling down the shot clock.
However, Shane Larkin got free against the press and did what he does best --- made a pair of free throws. Scott picked off a deep pass and dribbled out the clock.....and just like that, the Canes finally cracked the win column in the ACC with a 76-73 win.
Up 42-39 at the half, the Canes crept out to leads of 46-39, 49-42, and 54-49, before Clemson took the lead 64-60 with 7:05 left and seemed to have the momentum. Clemson's 7-footer Calatlin Baciu found room inside and guard Andre Young sliced through the Miami defense for easy layups.
Miami countered quickly, as it did most of the evening when Clemson made a run, with a three-pointer by Jones on the next possession, and took the lead for good with a pair of Kenny Kadji free throws with 5:41 left.
Scott, Jones, Kadji, DeQuan Jones and Malcolm Grant reached double digits points for the Canes, with Grant leading the way with 16 points and a couple of clutch three-pointers in the second half. It was a big bounce back game for Grant, who'd been struggling recently on the court while coping with the tragic loss of his brother off of it. Reggie Johnson had an off night with 7 points, but collected a game-high 7 rebounds despite struggling with foul trouble for most of the night.
Up next for Miami is NC State on Sunday at noon at the BankUnited Center.