Miami drops UNC for ACC title

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 17, 2013
Shane Larkin and ninth-ranked Miami now have the program's first ACC tournament championship to go with its first regular-season title. Larkin scored a career-high 28 points, eight coming in the final 2 1/2 minutes, to help Miami pull away late to beat North Carolina 87-77 in Sunday's final. Trey McKinney Jones added a career-high 20 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (27-6), including the go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:27 left that started Miami's final push to secure the program's first ACC tournament title. In a terrific back-and-forth game filled with big shots, the Hurricanes finally slowed P.J. Hairston and the third-seeded Tar Heels (24-10) enough down the stretch to secure what amounted to a road win in front of UNC's home-state crowd. Hairston scored 28 points and had six of the Tar Heels' 13 3-pointers, the most in the program's tournament history. But it wasn't enough to secure UNC's first ACC title since 2008 nor coach Roy Williams' 700th career victory. Larkin was chosen the tournament's most valuable player after finishing as the runner-up for league player of the year to Virginia Tech's Erick Green. But Larkin was at his best when the Hurricanes needed him in a tight game to complete their surprise run from being picked fifth in preseason to ACC champion. Miami shot 51 percent and made 12 of 22 3-pointers, six coming from McKinney Jones and four from Larkin. Miami also used its size advantage against North Carolina's four-guard lineup to take a 36-28 rebounding advantage that led to 13 second-chance points. The Hurricanes certainly needed every bit of it to beat the Tar Heels for a third time this season. Miami had blown out North Carolina by 26 points in February but didn't put this one away until the final minutes. Larkin drove by Dexter Strickland for a layup and a 76-71 lead, then McKinney Jones struck again with a 3 from the left corner off a feed from Rion Brown that pushed the margin to 79-71 with 1:36 left - the Hurricanes' biggest lead of the day to that point. Larkin also went 6-for-6 at the foul line to keep Miami in control.
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