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Thursday, March 8, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Miami 54, Ga. Tech 36

By Edward Aschoff

ATLANTA --Miami overcame dreadful shooting in the first half to roll right over Georgia Tech 54-36 in the finale of the first round of the ACC tournament Thursday.

For a team that shot pretty well during the regular season, the Hurricanes were erratic during the first half against the Yellow Jackets. Miami sank just 6 of 25 (24 percent) first-half shots, on its way to just 19 points. The good news for the Canes was that Georgia Tech struggled to find the bottom of the basket as well, scoring just 20 points on 8-of-26 shooting.

Things changed for the better for the Canes in the second frame, as they had outscored Georgia Tech 23-9 halfway through the second half. It helped that the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over 20 times, including 12 in the second half.

Miami found a spark off the bench in guard Rion Brown, who scored eight of his 10 points in the second. He helped fuel an 18-0 run for the Canes early in the second half with back-to-back 3s and a scintillating dunk on an alley-oop pass. After that run, the Canes never looked back.

Turning point: The 18-0 Miami run — which started with two free throws from guard/forward DeQuan Jones with 13:14 remaining — did the Yellow Jackets in. The Hurricanes went up 42-27 after hitting eight of nine shots, including two 3s from Brown, during the run, while Georgia Tech missed five consecutive shots and turned the ball over four times.

Key player: Freshman guard Shane Larkin did everything for the Canes. He owned the point, scoring a team-high 12 points, registering 3 steals and 3 assists, and snagging a rebound.

Key stat: Georgia Tech turned the ball over 20 times to Miami's 10.

Miscellaneous: Miami's 19 points and 24 percent shooting clip in the first half were the second-lowest outputs for the Hurricanes in those two categories at the half this season. Georgia Tech scored just 20 points, marking the seventh time this season that the Yellow Jackets have scored 20 or fewer at the half. ... Both teams combined for 14 baskets and 37 misses in the first half. ... Miami entered the game shooting 36 percent from 3-point land, but hit just 3-of-18 (16.7) Thursday night. ... Miami outscored Georgia Tech 35-16 in the second half.

What's next: Georgia Tech's season is over, while Miami will look to enhance its tournament chances with a victory over Florida State on Friday. The Canes are 1-1 against Florida State this season, including beating the Seminoles 78-62 the last time these two got together. Miami still appears to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but a win over Florida State would certainly go a long way to helping its chances.