After leading 14-0 almost halfway through the first half, No. 24 Miami was outscored 82-51 over the final 30 minutes to fall 82-65 to North Carolina Thursday night in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals in The Barclays Center.
The Tar Heels got a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds from Theo Pinson, helping the Tar Heels – who will face rival Duke in the ACC tourney semifinals – recover from a horrific start and the team’s awful shooting performance.
UM, a veritable lock to make the NCAA Tournament, now waits for “Selection Sunday” to see where it will be seeded for March Madness.
Over the first seven minutes, the Hurricanes held North Carolina scoreless – the Heels missed their first 13 shots – forcing an exasperated Roy Williams to sub out his entire starting lineup.
Miami’s success began to erode after Williams’ wholesale lineup change and the Canes saw its lead dwindle over the final 13 minutes and completely evaporated right at the halftime buzzer when Lonnie Walker IV committed one of basketball’s cardinal sins – fouling a player during a desperation heave – when he made contact with UNC’s Cameron Johnson while attempted a 60-foot heave.
Johnson made all three free throws to put the Heels up 32-31.
Miami (22-9) and North Carolina both battled through spotty shooting in the second half as they flip-flopped the lead throughout the first 10 minutes of the final half.
North Carolina began to pull away from the Canes thanks to Pinson. He scored 10 points in three and a half minutes of the second half, including a corner 3 to make it 69-63 with 4:25 left. Forty-two seconds later, Pinson dribbled through the Miami press and threw down a slam that had the UNC fans chanting “Taarrr! Heels!”
UNC stretched the lead out to its final margin as they closed the game on a 13-2 run.
Ja’Quan Newton, who beat North Carolina nine days ago in Chapel Hill with a 40-foot buzzer beater, scored 17 points for third-seeded Miami.
“We played a great game against them in Chapel Hill nine or 10 days ago and were hoping to play that well today, but we really showed our inexperience,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Freshmen Chris Lykes and Walker shot a combined 7 for 25, while sophomore Dewan Huell scored just five points and grabbed seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report