GREENSBORO, N.C. -- By the time you read this, Sunday’s ACC tournament championship game will be an afterthought, a fond March asterisk as you debate seeding and Cinderellas and start the post-Selection Show process of filling out a bracket.
And that’s a shame,because, wow, that was entertaining.
In the end, the top-seeded Miami Hurricanes enjoyed the confetti treatment and its first ACC tournament title, but it took 15 lead changes, 10 ties, and a gritty, sharpshooting effort against a vastly improved North Carolina Tar Heels team to prevail 87-77 at Greensboro Coliseum.
A quick look at the contest:
Turning point: UNC, which lost twice to Miami during the regular season before it switched to its current four-guard starting lineup, was leading 67-64 with about seven minutes left. That’s when Miami put together an 8-0 run, led by five points from forward Julian Gamble, to take a 72-67 lead.
UNC’s Dexter Strickland stopped the breakaway, briefly, with two free throws, but in a game that went back and forth for the first 36 minutes, it was enough of a cushion to build upon. And the final score does not show just how competitive this game was.
Players of the game: Miami point guard Shane Larkin finished with 28 points on 8-for-15 shooting, with seven assists and five rebounds. Teammate Trey McKinney Jones added 20 points. UNC sophomore P.J. Hairston also scored 28 points, including six 3-pointers, in front of his hometown crowd.
Numbers to know: The teams combined for 25 3-pointers. Miami shot 50.8 percent for the game, and UNC shot 45 percent.
What’s next: The Hurricanes earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament; the Tar Heels will get an at-large seed. Where will they go? Who will they play? The bracket will be revealed at 6 p.m. ET Sunday.