Greenboro, NC (Sports Network) - The Miami Hurricanes seek an Atlantic Coast
Conference championship sweep, when they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels
in the league's tournament title game at the Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday.
Conference titles haven't been the norm in Coral Gables. Miami earned its
first regular-season ACC crown this year and just its second ever conference
title (shared of the 2000 Big East crown). In just his second season at the
helm, Jim Larranaga was named the ACC Coach of the Year and has his Hurricanes
in their first-ever tournament title game. The 'Canes navigated the tournament
field as the top-seed with wins over Boston College (69-58) in the
quarterfinals and NC State (81-71) in the semifinals.
UNC has plenty of postseason success in this event, ranking second in ACC
history with 17 tournament titles, although the Tar Heels are seeking their
first since 2008. A slow start in 2012-13 had people questioning North
Carolina early on in-conference, but Roy Williams' Tar Heels really came
together down the stretch to finish up 12-6 in conference play, good for third
place. The Tar Heels opened their tournament run with an 83-62 rout of Florida
State, but had a much tougher time in Saturday's 79-76 semifinal win over
Maryland. A win on Sunday would be Williams' 700th in his head coaching
The Tar Heels hold an 18-4 series advantage against the Hurricanes, but half
of Miami's victories have come this season. Miami knocked off UNC in Chapel
Hill on Jan. 10 (68-59) and followed that with an 87-61 rout in Coral Gables
on Feb. 9.
Scoring points hasn't been a problem for North Carolina this season and the
Heels needed that to be the case against Maryland on Saturday. Dexter
Strickland and Reggie Bullock led the way with 15 points apiece. P.J. Hairston
was nursing a hand injury but still finished with 13 points, as did James
Michael McAdoo. Still, the Tar Heels had to hold on down the stretch and sweat
out a win.
On the season, North Carolina comes in averaging a hefty 77.2 ppg. Just a
sophomore, McAdoo struggled to live up to the hype surrounding him coming into
the year, but he still put up big numbers, leading his team in both scoring
(14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). Bullock (14.3 ppg) and Hairston (13.8
ppg) add to the scoring punch. Strickland (8.1 ppg) and Marcus Paige (7.7 ppg)
don't usually add much to the scoring column, but they are a potent one-two
punch in terms of facilitating the offense. Just a freshman, Paige leads the
team with 149 assists, with Strickland (135) not far behind, ranking as two of
the ACC's top assist men.
It will be strength against strength, as North Carolina's offensive firepower
will try to penetrate Miami's staunch defense. The Hurricanes are yielding
just 60.2 ppg, while holding foes to under 40 percent shooting overall (.397).
No player has meant more to Miami's run this year than sophomore Shane Larkin.
The 5-foot-11 point guard leads the team in scoring (14.2 ppg), assists (4.3
apg) and steals (2.0 spg). Forward Kenny Kadji (13.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and guard
Durand Scott (13.4 ppg) are big time performers as well in the Miami lineup.
Further depth comes in the form of guard Trey McKinney Jones (9.1 ppg) and
center Reggie Johnson (7.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg).
It was Scott that stood up and took over against NC State in Saturday's
semifinal matchup, netting a career-high 32 points to put the Hurricanes in
the title game. Scott was 12-of-18 from the floor, including five 3-pointers
in the performance. Larkin was unstoppable as well, netting 23 points,
grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists. Julian Gamble chipped in
with 10 points, while Kadji netted eight points and grabbed nine rebounds for
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