Durand Scott leads Miami to ACC final

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami guard Durand Scott’s coaches had been reminding him to hold his follow-through after shots.

“On the ones I missed, I hadn’t been,” he explained.

So you couldn’t blame the senior for holding the pose an extra moment (or two) with about 11 minutes left in Saturday’s 81-71 win over NC State in the ACC tournament semifinals.

After the fifth-seeded Wolfpack put together a 13-4 rally to cut a once 19-point lead to 50-44, Scott buried a 3 from near the top of the arc to halt the rally. That marked his 25th, 26th and 27th points in what would be a career-high 32-point outing.

“I didn’t know how many points I had at that point,” Scott said of that key 3-pointer. “I just knew that shot felt good.”

Know what feels better? Securing top-seeded Miami’s first trip to the ACC tournament championship game at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday.

“These are times you dream about -- and I feel like I’m living somebody else’s dream,” Scott said. “I feel happy.”

Scott set the tone early, scoring Miami’s first two buckets. He outscored the Wolfpack 11-5 at one point (when the Canes led 14-5), and gave his team as much as a 39-20 advantage near the end of the first half when he buried his 18th and 19th points on a pair of free throws.

“Today he had a jump shot going, so if you play off him and give him a one-arm-length gap, he would step up there and drill a 3 on you,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said.

And if the Wolfpack defended closer? “He beat us off the dribble,” Gottfried said. “He was tough today, very good.”

Scott’s offensive ability isn’t exactly surprising. The media-notes-described “junkyard dog” had posted games with 20 or more points twice this season. And then there was that performance in this building when he was a freshman, when he recorded 21 points in a 2010 semifinal loss at Duke.

But this year -- one that has seen Miami reach its best-ever national ranking (as high as No. 2) and win its first league regular-season title -- he’d been lauded more for his abilities on the other side of the ball and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week.

It’s an award he is proud of (and it should be noted that NC State’s Scott Wood scored most of his team-high 21 points Saturday when Scott wasn’t guarding him), but he -- and his teammates -- were glad he was able to display so many facets of his game.

Especially with so much -- perhaps a number No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament? -- on the line.

“I don’t think Durand gets the media attention he should get,” said Hurricanes point guard Shane Larkin, who finished with 23 points. “He’s one of the best guards in the country, not just the ACC. He’s proven that over his four years here, with the amount of points he has, the steals, rebounds. He’s the leader, [the] heart and soul of the team, definitely.”

In the end, Scott made 12 of 18 shots, including five 3-pointers, before he fouled out, as Miami shot 45.6 percent for the game.

And he actually held his shooting pose twice, the second time coming with 7:41 left, when his 3-pointer gave his team a 61-48 cushion (and it gave him the first game with 30-plus points of his career).

Still, it’s likely that run-stopping 3 earlier in the second half is what will be his most memorable of this game.

“That’s probably the longest I’ve ever held my follow-through,” he said, smiling.