If there was one certainty going in to tonight's 2nd round ACC Tournament game between 14th seed Virginia Tech and 6th seed Miami in Greensboro, it was that the 'Canes absolutely could not afford a loss to remain in consideration for a berth in March Madness.
If their hopes had relied in the aesthetics of this contest, they would already be packing for the NIT.
In a hard fought and sometimes sloppy contest, the 'Canes got the win over a game Hokies squad, 59-49.
Early on UM was sloppy with the ball, and trailed by 3 about halfway through the first half.
Tonye Jekiri was strong on the inside, but the 'Canes were plagued by 6 early turnovers.
Miami did take a brief lead behind a nice driving lay up by Deandre Burnett.
But VT's Jalen Hudson, who lit up Wake Forest for 32 yesterday, came off the bench and immediately dunked the ball to put the Hokies back in front.
With the Hurricanes ice cold, they turned to leading scorer Sheldon McClellan, and it payed immediate dividends. McClellan scored on a beautiful in bounds alley hoop, and then swished a three from deep to put UM up 18-17.
Angel Rodriguez (sprained wrist) came off the bench, for his first action in 3 games. He wasted no time finding an attempt at a deep three, but unfortunately it did not go in.
His second attempt was a little closer, a driving reverse, and it did find the bottom of the bucket to help Miami build a small lead.
And despite a mostly stagnant first half offensively in front of a listless crowd, the 'Canes went to the half up 25-19.
McClellan punctuated the first 20 minutes by sending an Adam Smith lay up attempt into the third row, at the buzzer. Golf applause followed.
A two handed dunk by James Palmer got the Hurricanes on the board in the second half.
But Ahmed Hill got to the bucket for the hoop plus the harm to keep things close early on.
VT surprisingly had the upper hand in the energy department in the early going of the final 20 minutes.
In what had developed into a very ugly contest, Devin Wilson's bucket cut the lead to 29-27.
Miami really struggled offensively all night, missing a variety of bunnies, floaters, leaners, and forced drives.
Davon Reed followed his own miss to keep UM out in front, but they just couldn't shake the pesky Hokies.
Undersized Hokies C Christian Beyer somehow found his way inside time and time again for easy baskets in a seesaw second stanza.
With 8 minutes to go, this game was tied up.
The Hurricanes got up 5 behind baskets by McClellan and Jekiri, but two consecutive possessions where they were a step behind to loose balls, allowed VT to slice it back to 1.
Reed would nail a triple from the top of the key to stretch it to 47-43 at the 4 minute mark.
Burnett's three 2 minutes later would extend it to 7.
From there they salted the game away at the line. McClellan led the way with 16, Reed chipped in 10.
Rodriguez played just 10 minutes.
They will need to be better tomorrow night but credit Miami for getting the win tonight in game where both teams, not to mention the crowd ,had a hard time manufacturing energy.
Next Up: The 'Canes take on 3rd seeded Notre Dame in a game that could guarantee them a spot in the field of 68 with a win. The game will take place at 9PM and can be seen on ESPN.