BROOKLYN, N.Y. – No. 3 seed Miami falls to No. 6 seed North Carolina, 82-65, in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament late Thursday night at the Barclays Center. Theo Pinson had a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels, while Ja’Quan Newton finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Canes.
After both teams started the game missing each of their first six shots, the Hurricanes began to get things going after back-to-back three-point shots from sophomore guard DJ Vasiljevic. The Tar Heels found themselves down, 14-0, seven minutes into the game, missing its first 13 shots from the field. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams had enough, turning his starters into cheerleaders by subbing out his entire starting lineup. UNC’s bench responded, then the starters came back in two minutes later to help extend a 19-4 run that gave Carolina its first lead of the game, 19-18, with 5:56 to go in the half. Miami settled back down and appeared to have a two-point lead heading into halftime, before freshman Lonnie Walker IV had inexcusable foul on three-quarter length shot by Cameron Johnson with 0.4 seconds left in the first half. Johnson continued to make all three free throws and gave the Tar Heels a one-point lead at halftime.
Sam Waardenburg started the second half for Anthony Lawrence II, after he left the first half with an ankle injury. Lawrence returned pretty quickly in the second half and made his first three shots including a pair of three-point shots and scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Chris Lykes and Walker IV had stepped up for Miami since Bruce Brown was injured 12 games ago, but tonight only had seven points in the second half and combined 0-for-9 from behind the arc in the game. Newton tried his best to keep the Canes around by hitting a pair of three’s and making some tough jumpers throughout the second half, but Miami struggled with its intensity on defense and took too many bad shots on the offensive end to make a real threat to North Carolina. After Miami had been so good late in games recently, they failed to score in the final four minutes as the Tar Heels took a double-digit lead and didn’t look back.
Just nine days ago, Newton hit a 40-foot buzzer beater to ruin Senior Night in Chapel Hill, but tonight was much different. The Hurricanes only shot 37% from the field, 32% from 3PT and 54% from the line, compared to its last game against the Tar Heels where they shot 54.8% from the field, 50% from 3PT and 92.3% from the line.
North Carolina senior guard Theo Pinson was dominant and had to be in this game because UNC’s top two leading scorers struggled. Luke Maye, UNC’s leading scorer, went 1-for-15 from the field and point guard Joel Berry II shot 4-for-14, playing through a twisted ankle.
Miami had won at least one game in the ACC Tournament the last eight years. Before tonight, the last time the Hurricanes had lost their opening ACC Tournament game was against Virginia Tech in 2009.
Despite the disappointing performance, the Canes will move onto the tournament that matters most, as they are a lock for the NCAA Tournament that begins on March 13. Tune into the 2018 NCAA March Madness Selection Show on Sunday, March 11 at 6 p.m. on TBS to see Miami’s opponent. Currently, Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has the Hurricanes as a No. 6 seed for the upcoming tournament before today’s action.
Yeah Lonnie had a bad game, but Newton has played in about a hundred more games than him. How can an experienced 4th year point guard combine 40% shooting with such an abysmal assist-turnover night at this point.
there was waaaay too much dribbling and holding the ball last night, not much movement and way too much hero ball, our offense has been up and down like that most of the year, idk if its newton or we just haven’t really found our identity on offense