The Miami Hurricanes are ACC Tournament Champions, solidifying the title of ACC regular season champions, cementing their place in the program’s history and will head into this weeks NCAA Tournament on a much-needed roll.
Sunday’s championship game pitted top-ranked Miami against third-seed North Carolina in a game that was a heavyweight title fight from the get-go, both teams trading big blows.
James Michael McAdoo makes a layup. Kenny Kadji hit a jumper. Shane Larkin cut to the basket for a layup of his won. McAdoo hit another, followed by a Reggie Bullock three-pointer. Trey McKinney-Jones answered back with three of his own, pulling to a 7-7 tie – just over three minutes off the clock, but feeling like a half hour had passed.
Larkin drilled a three and Julian Gamble tipped one in to give Miami a 12-7 lead, but North Carolina tore off an 11-0 run, holding the Hurricanes scoreless for almost four minutes, taking the 18-12 lead.
Durand Scott, sent to the locker room on the first possession with back spasms, returned and helped Miami inch back into the game with back-to-back scores and after Kadji was credited with a tip in, another McKinney-Jones three tied things up, 22-22.
The Canes took a 44-41 lead into the half, both teams hitting some clutch three-pointers before Larkin laid one in with five seconds on the clock, pushing the lead to three.
North Carolina tied the game 44-44 and again at 55-55 behind big shots by Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and Marcus Paige.
McKinney-Jones stayed hot for Miami, going 6-of-9 on the day, finishing with twenty total points, four rebounds and three assists behind Larkin, who had a career-best twenty-eight, 8-of-15 in field goals and a more-impressive 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
Free throws proved to be the name of the game for Miami, the the Hurricanes going 10-of-10 from the 3:47 mark on, pushing the lead from three to five and quickly to eight after a McKinney-Jones hit his sixth three-pointer on the day.
Larkin hit six straight free throws, hacked on every in-bound and Rion Brown hit two more with fifteen remaining ticks. Hairston, who led the Heels with a twenty-eight point outing, tossed up one last three-point attempt, which Scott, the ACC’s Defensive Player Of The Year pulled down, and the 87-77 win was in the books.
ACC regular season champions over a week back. ACC tournament champs this past week. Two-seed entering this week’s NCAA Tournament.
The dream season rolls on and Miami might just have what it takes to make some noise these next few weeks.
Six wins from the ultimate prize, but before getting caught up in that next-level dream, take a minute to appreciate another one which was just fulfilled.
ACC Tournament Champs. ACC Tournament Champs. ACC Tournament Champs.
Well-earned and feels so good.
Christian Bello has been covering Miami Hurricanes athletics since the mid-1990s. After spending almost a decade as a columnist for CanesTime, he launched allCanesBlog.com. – the official blog for allCanes.com : The #1 Canes Shop Since 1959. Bello has joined up with XOFan.com and will be a guest columnist at CaneInsider.com this fall. Follow him on Twitter @ChristianRBello.