Ninth-ranked Hurricanes beat NC State, blow into ACC final
Greensboro, NC – Durand Scott scored a career-high 32 points and Shane Larkin added 23, as ninth-ranked Miami-Florida reached the championship game of the ACC Tournament for the first time with an 81-71 victory over North Carolina State at Greensboro Coliseum.
Julian Gamble chipped in 10 points and Kenny Kadji contributed eight with nine rebounds for the Hurricanes (26-6), who struggled to beat Boston College in the quarterfinals on Friday but looked like a true top seed and led from start-to-finish in this one.
Miami will face North Carolina for the title on Sunday.
Scott Wood connected on six 3-pointers and finished with 21 points for North Carolina State (24-10), which entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and beat Virginia Tech and Virginia in the first two rounds before running into a buzz saw on Saturday.
Wood was 7-of-12 from beyond the arc on Friday against Virginia and finished the tournament with 16 3-point makes in three games.
"We didn't want to let Scott Wood go off for another seven threes, so we held him to six," said Miami coach Jim Larranaga.
The Hurricanes scored the first five points of the game en route to a 23-10 advantage with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half. The lead reached 19 at 39-20 with 65 seconds left, but NC State came up with a couple of steals in the final minute and pulled within 41-29 at the break.
Scott had 19 first-half points and Larkin chipped in 11, as Miami converted 15-of-29 from the field.
NC State continued to chip away early in the second half and pulled within 50-44 on a three by Wood with just over 12 minutes remaining, but Scott canned a shot from beyond the arc and added a bucket to cap an 8-1 Miami run for a 58-45 advantage with 8 1/2 minutes left.
The Hurricanes opened a 16-point bulge a few minutes later, but the Wolfpack wouldn't go away. A Wood triple with 1:26 remaining drew NC State within 79-71, but Larkin hit two from the line and the Wolfpack failed to answer.
"Obviously we wanted to get the win and we felt like we could have played better in the first half," Wood said. "But at the same time, they're the No. 1 seed, they played well all year and if you don't play well for part of the game they're going to take advantage of it."
C.J. Leslie scored 14 points and T.J. Warren added 13 for NC State ... Miami won the only regular-season meeting, 79-78, on a tip-in by Reggie Johnson just before the buzzer ... The Hurricanes also won the only previous ACC Tournament matchup with the Wolfpack, 63-50, in the first round of the 2008 event ... The No. 5 seed in the ACC tourney is now 3-22 in semifinal play. The last fifth seed to reach the title game was Georgia Tech in 2005 ... The Wolfpack have won 10 ACC Tournament titles, the last coming in 1987. They haven't reached the championship game since 2007.