GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Miami Hurricanes have secured a bunch of “firsts” this season: first defeat of a No. 1 team, first No. 2 national ranking (their highest ever), first ACC regular-season title.
Now they’ll try to add another to the list: first ACC tournament championship.
Paced by senior guard Durand Scott’s career-high 32 points -- remember, he was named the league’s defensive player of the year earlier this week -- the top-seeded (another first) Hurricanes beat No. 5 seed NC State 81-71 on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s title game at Greensboro Coliseum.
A quick look at the game:
Turning point: NC State, which trailed by as many as 19 points after a listless start, put together a 9-2 run to cut Miami’s advantage to 41-29 at halftime and then had a 13-4 rally early in the second half to cut the lead to 50-44. But Scott -- who else? -- halted the comeback with a 3-pointer.
With 8:28 left, another Scott drive gave Miami a 58-45 cushion (and tied the guard’s previous career high of 29 points). About 30 seconds later, yet another Scott 3-pointer pushed him past 30 points for the first time in his career.
Player(s) of the game: Um, I think I’ll choose Scott. He made 12 of his 18 shots, including five 3-pointers, before fouling out with about two minutes left. Shane Larkin added 23 points for Miami.
Scott Wood led NC State with 21 points.
Numbers(s) to know: Miami shot 51.7 percent in the first half. … NC State big man Richard Howell posted another double-digit rebounding game despite a deep thigh bruise sustained during Friday’s quarterfinal win.
Up next: Miami will play either third-seeded North Carolina or seventh-seeded Maryland in Sunday’s ACC tournament title game.