As two of the ACC’s premier guards went head-to-head in Saturday’s game, both players were determined to lead their team to victory. However, the biggest shot of the game came from neither.
Lance Hurdle’s three-pointer with nine seconds remaining helped the Miami Hurricanes (20-8, 7-7 ACC) defeat the Virginia Cavaliers (13-13, 3-10 ACC) 95-93. Virginia guard Sean Singletary scored a career-high 41 points, while Canes guard Jack McClinton had a career-high 34 points and seven three-pointers.
Singletary and McClinton battled back and forth throughout the second half, displaying an array of offensive moves to carry their teams.
“I knew it was going to be a battle,” McClinton said. “[Singletary] is a great player. He keeps you on your heels, and it makes him so difficult to guard.”
The game remained close at the start of the second half until McClinton made back-to-back three-pointers to cap off a 10-0 Miami run, giving the Hurricanes a 13-point lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Singletary, who came into the game third in the ACC in scoring, was not to be outdone. He helped the Cavaliers fight back, driving the ball aggressively to the basket. With less than two minutes left in the game, Singletary hit two consecutive three-pointers to spark a 9-0 Virginia run, cutting the Canes’ lead to one.
Miami then put the ball in McClinton’s hands. Coming off a high screen, he found Hurdle wide open in the corner, who drilled a three that put Miami up by four points with nine seconds remaining.
Singletary then rushed down the court for a quick lay-up, cutting the lead to two. McClinton was intentionally fouled, but made only one of two free throws. Miami then intentionally fouled Singletary with 0.9 on the game clock, preventing him from tying the game. After making the first, he missed the second free throw on purpose, but the Cavaliers failed to get the rebound, sealing the win for the Hurricanes.
“It was a great ball game, a great win for us,” Miami head coach Frank Haith said. “Our guys found a way with all the adversity and distractions that could have hurt us.”
Miami’s Jimmy Graham contributed a career-high 19 points off the bench. Virginia forward Laurynas Mikalauskas also came off the bench to chip in 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, both career-highs.
McClinton did a phenomenal job creating separation. He was effective coming from screens, both driving to the basket and hitting open jumpers. At one point in the second half, McClinton scored 14 consecutive points for Miami.
“He is as dangerous a shooter as there is in the country,” Virginia Coach Dave Leitao said. “It takes a concerted effort to stop him.”
“We just kept calling his number, and he kept delivering,” Haith said. “You could see he was feeling it.”
Singletary scored 31 of his 41 points in the second half, using his lightning-quick first step to drive past Miami’s defenders. Singletary had nine rebounds to go along with his career-high in points.
“Singletary’s a hell of a player,” Haith said. “When he’s on a roll like he was today, he’s basically unguardable.”
With their 20th win, Miami has an even stronger case for getting into the NCAA tournament, as Selection Sunday approaches.
Joel Brown may be contacted at email@example.com.