The story of this game was the guy Coach Jim Larranaga calls the "heart and soul" of Hurricanes Hoops. Durand Scott poured in 32 points, fought for every loose ball, and made big baskets time and time again as UM knocked out NC State 81-71 in Greensboro.
Scott wasted no time getting Miami going, twice taking the ball to the hoop for the game's first 4 points. NC State, on the other hand, was ice cold and looked fatigued in the early moments. Both teams, in fact, were short on both jump shots and free throws, with clanks off the front rim serenading the Greensboro crowd through the first 7 minutes.
A banged up Richard Howell got a couple of quick buckets to make it a 4 point game, but Durand Scott got hot again. A backdoor cut off a perfect feed from Shane Larkin, a corner three, and a transition pull-up capped a one man 7-0 run giving UM a 14-5 lead. Equally important was Scott's defense on State's Scott Wood (this would not last). With DS plastered to him, Wood did not find many early looks. 5 quick points by CJ Leslie cut into the lead, but a runner by Larkin and Scott's second trifecta of the half built it back up to 21-10. Scott would can another triple to up his point total to 19 then find Larkin on a beautifully executed 2 on 1 to swell the lead to 30-18.
The Pack went zone with about 4 minutes left in the half in an attempt to duplicate the success BC had against the 'Canes in the quarterfinals, but Larkin nailed a three, and Kenny Kadji scored inside as UM found holes in the NC State defense. Miami, in fact, was dominating, and at one point held a 19 point advantage.
But as quickly as they had built a huge lead, they seemed to get complacent and gave a big chunk back in the final minute and a half. Back-to-back threes by the previously bottled up Wood gave NC State life. Consecutive Hurricanes turnovers and a slew of FTs helped State cut the lead to 41-29 at the half. UM was fortunate that the Pack were just 8-16 from the line in the first 20 minutes, although a few of the calls that sent them to the line were questionable at best.
Scott picked up right where he left off in the second half. A pretty and one followed by a left handed flush on a breakaway by the Miami senior built the lead back to 15 in the early moments of the final 20.
But 2 more turnovers led to easy transition buckets for NCSU and the lead was 46-35 at the under 15 TV timeout. Rodney Purvis first bucket of the game would eventually cut the lead to single digits and force Larranaga to call a TO. Wood then hit a three over Rion Brown to cut it to 50-44 and make things even tenser.
But Scott swished another bomb to answer and the 'Canes seem to settle down. With the lead rotating between 9-11 points he scooped one in with his left hand for his 28th and 29th points of the game and a 58-45 lead. Another triple and a new career high 32 points and kept it at a 13 point advantage.
The Pack attempted to make the game frenetic in the final 7 minutes, gambling for steals and battling hard on both ends. But the Hurricanes showed great composure down the stretch. Julian Gamble's emphatic two-handed slam made it 76-64 with just over 2 minutes to go. Larkin was also calm and cool sinking 8 straight FTs in the closing minutes.
Every effort by the Wolfpack was vanquished by the Hurricanes effort and experience.
And with that, Miami will play for their first ever ACC Tournament Championship!!!
Player Of The Game: Although he fouled out with just over 2 minutes to go, this game was all about Durand Scott (32 points 3 rebounds 4 assists).
The Good: The effort on both ends was terrific. Larkin (23 points 7 rebounds 4 assists) was nearly as sensational as Scott.
The Bad: The end of the first half nearly marred a fantastic performance from start to finish.
The Ugly: Richard Howell's beard sweat!! The perspiration off that thing is like a mini Niagra Falls.
Next Game: The Canes will take on the winner of UNC- Maryland in the ACC Final tomorrow at Noon.
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- Technical Fouls:
- Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC