Miami, Boston College, Va. Tech win
Recapping Thursday’s action at the ACC Tournament…
GREENSBORO — The game was slipping away, with Miami missing shot after shot in what looked like a brief stay in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Instead, the Hurricanes somehow reversed everything in a stunning comeback that will keep them in Greensboro a little longer.
Malcolm Grant scored 16 points as Miami rallied from 10 down in the final minute of regulation to force overtime and beat Virginia 69-62 in Thursday’s first round.
If the ninth-seeded Hurricanes (19-13) are trying to top last year’s surprise run to the tournament semifinals as a No. 12 seed, they’re off to a good start. They trailed 53-43 with 42.5 seconds left before a frantic flurry erased the deficit and gave them another shot.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of character,” Miami coach Frank Haith said. “I’m really proud of these guys because we’ve had some adversity all year in terms of tight ballgames. You’ve got to give these guys credit in not quitting and making plays down the stretch to give us a chance to win.”
The Hurricanes had good reason to believe they could rally against the eighth-seeded Cavaliers (16-15). In the only regular-season meeting, Miami rallied from five down with 38.9 seconds left to force overtime and win 70-68 in Charlottesville on Feb. 5.
“Coach just told us in the huddle to never stop believing,” Grant said. “We have a lot of time left. And our assistant coach, he told us that the same thing happened when we played them. We had a lot of confidence, and we just went out there and kept playing. You see what happens when you just keep playing.”
Now the Hurricanes are preparing for another shot at sixth-ranked and top-seeded North Carolina — which beat the Hurricanes on a last-second 3-pointer in January — in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Boston Coll. 81, Wake Forest 67
Coach Steve Donahue wants to savor his first conference tournament at Boston College and not ruin it by worrying if his Eagles will make the NCAA field.
He can enjoy the experience for a day longer, thanks to some noteworthy scoring balance.
BC had three players score at least 20 points in an 81-67 victory against Wake Forest on Thursday in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Reggie Jackson scored 27 points, Joe Trapani added 22 and Biko Paris had 21 for the fifth-seeded Eagles (20-11). They shot nearly 54 percent on 29-of-54 shooting, made 10 3-pointers and used a huge first-half run to beat Wake Forest for the second time this week.
That BC probably boosted its NCAA tournament chances with the win was of little concern to Donahue, whose previous two Division I coaching stops were in the Ivy League — which doesn’t determine its champion with a tournament.
“I always wondered, when coaches were in these conference tournaments — this is my first — (why) they were worried about the NCAA tournament,” Donahue said. “I love a clear mind. That would really bother me, thinking about those types of things.”
The Eagles will face fourth-seeded Clemson on Friday in a quarterfinal matchup of NCAA bubble teams. The Tigers beat BC 77-69 on Feb. 8 in Clemson, S.C.
“We’re not really worried about the NCAA tournament right now,” Jackson said. “We’re just … trying to get a little revenge, a little payback.”
Virginia Tech 59, Georgia Tech 43
Malcolm Delaney scored 15 points and Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech 59-43 on Thursday night in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Jeff Allen added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Hokies (20-10), who never trailed.
They shot nearly 47 percent on 22-of-47 shooting, raced out to an early 19-point lead and made it stand, snapping the irksome two-game losing streak that brought their NCAA tournament candidacy into question.
Virginia Tech gets another chance to make a case for a spot in the field of 68 on Friday night against third-seeded Florida State in the quarterfinals.
Glen Rice Jr. scored 14 points to lead 11th-seeded Georgia Tech (13-18). The Yellow Jackets hit a few late shots to avoid their season-low shooting percentage — they finished 17 of 53 (32 percent) — but their two-game winning streak was halted.
Eric Green had 11 points for the Hokies, who took a decisive step toward their first NCAA tournament berth since 2007. It appeared to be a foregone conclusion that Virginia Tech would make the field nearly two weeks ago when it knocked off then-No. 1 Duke.
But consecutive head-scratching losses to Boston College and Clemson appeared to place the Hokies back on the bubble. According to an unofficial online replication of the RPI formula, coach Seth Greenberg’s team entered at No. 64 against the 85th-best schedule.
Delaney, an all-ACC guard who’s second in the league in scoring, seemed to put the Hokies on his shoulders early in this one. He blew past the Yellow Jackets for a layup while being bumped on one possession, then pulled up over them for a pretty jumper the next time down the court. Delaney’s layup made it 12-2 and put the Hokies up by double figures to stay.
The expected scoring duel between Delaney and Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert never materialized. Shumpert, the ACC’s fourth-leading scorer, missed six of his first seven shots and finished 4 of 14 with 12 points. One of his few highlights was a pocket-picking steal from Delaney in the second half that led to a breakaway dunk and, for a few seconds, pulled Georgia Tech within 18.
The Hokies methodically built their lead during the opening 13 minutes, opening the game with a 15-2 run and pushing it to 30-11 on Tyrone Garland’s three-point play with 7:41 left before the break. Allen gave Virginia Tech its first 20-point lead when his baseline jumper with 141/2 minutes remaining stretched it to 43-23.
The Associated Press