It’s been a season of first for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team: first 13-0 start to ACC play, first time beating a number one overall team, first time winning the ACC regular season, and so on. The Canes added to their impressive resume by finishing the ACC Tournament on top, defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 87-77 at Greensboro Coliseum. The Canes got an early scare when ACC Defensive Player of the Year Durand Scott walked off the court during the first thirty seconds of the game due to a strained back. The Canes missed Scott’s presence, especially on defense as the Tar Heels started off the game on fire. P.J Hairston and Reggie Bullock kept the Tar Heels in the game with their pinpoint shooting from long distance. Instead of slowing the game down as they normally do, the Canes tried beating the Tar Heels at their own game, with Shane Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones matching the Tar Heels shot for shot. The Canes were able to garner a little momentum after Shane Larkin’s floater in the lane with two seconds left put Miami up three going in the half.
Miami hoped that the Tar Heels’ hot shooting from the perimeter was a fluke and that Hairston would cool down after the break. Instead of cooling down, both P.J Hairston and Reggie Bullock heated up even more, giving the Tar Heels the lead for a good portion of the second half. James Michael McAdoo also had some big baskets in the paint for UNC. Yesterday, it was Durand Scott who held off the Wolfpack’s run with his prolific scoring. This time, it was Shane Larkin who willed the Canes back into the lead by doing whatever was asked of him. He hit a big three that cut the Tar Heels’ lead to one late in the second half. Larkin then used his quickness to make the defense collapse and kicked the ball out to Trey McKinney Jones for wide-open three pointers. Larkin helped McKinney Jones score a career-high twenty points on six of nine shooting from the three-point line. When the Tar Heels switched to man, Larkin blew by his defensive assignment for uncontested lay ups or set up Julian Gamble with easy dunks. Finally, Larkin iced the game for Miami, making all eight of his free throw attempts.
Canes Nation was disappointed when the committee passed up Shane Larkin for ACC Player of the Year, instead giving to Virginia Tech senior Erick Green. Larkin made his case again today, finishing the game with a career high 28 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Shane’s father, hall of fame shortstop Barry Larkin, looked on proudly as his son earned ACC Tournament MVP honors. Barry still wishes his son followed his footsteps and played baseball but everyone else in Miami is grateful to have Shane leading the Canes as they prepare for the NCAA Tournament.