Miami Hurricanes’ head coach Jim Larranaga refers to shooting guard Durand Scott as the “heart and soul” of the team. Scott displayed his leadership again today, this time by scoring a career high 32 points against a normally stingy Wolfpack defense. The Canes needed every one of his baskets prevent the predicted ACC champion in the preseason from upsetting the number one seed. The Canes came storming out of the gate, jumping out to a quick 16-5 lead in the first ten minutes of the game. Scott helped Miami extend its lead to nineteen with three minutes left in the first half by scoring nineteen first-half points. The Wolfpack rallied back with a run of their own at the end of the first half, led by senior Scott Wood. Wood hit two threes at the end of the first half and shifted momentum towards the Wolfpack as the two teams headed towards the locker room for halftime.
The second half began with the two teams exchanging blows. The Canes had trouble pulling away while the Wolfpack had trouble making a game-changing run. North Carolina State was able to end the stalemate by cutting the Canes’ lead to six. Once again, Scott Wood inspired the Wolfpack run with his pinpoint three-point shooting. It also did not help the Canes’ cause that they were being careless with the basketball and not getting back in transition. Durand Scott came to the rescue again by hitting a big three that shifted momentum back towards the Canes. Backcourt teammate Shane Larkin followed Scott’s lead and scored critical baskets for Miami when they needed it the most. Together, Scott and Larkin combined for 55 of Miami’s 81 points, accounting for 68 percent of the total offense. Not only did Miami’s backcourt get it done on offense, but the two best perimeter defenders in the ACC also led the way on defense, creating five steals between them. Scott and Larkin also forced Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown into tough shots, making it difficult for NC State to stay in the game.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Durand Scott fouled out. He received a standing ovation from the limited Miami supporters at Greensboro Coliseum. The Wolfpack looked to make another run, cutting the lead to eight with less than two minutes to go. This time, Shane Larkin silenced the crowd with his lightning quick handles, smart decision-making, and clutch free throws. Larkin dribbled the ball at the end of the game, as the Canes celebrated making their first ever ACC Championship game. The Hurricanes will play the North Carolina Tar Heels tomorrow, whom they have already defeated twice this season. They will be favored to win again and take home their first ever ACC Championship.