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17 March 2013

Canes beat UNC for ACC title, head to Tourney as No. 2 seed

Miami pulled off its third double-digit victory in as many days to win the ACC Tournament for the first time in school history.

Shane Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones led an explosive offense that executed down the stretch to defeat North Carolina, 87-77, on Sunday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Larkin, who scored a career-high 28 points with seven assists, was named tournament MVP. He averaged 23.7 points in 39 minutes over the week.

“It was a very important win, gave us a lot of momentum going into the NCAA Tournament,” Larkin said. “A lot of people are saying we peaked … too early, we weren’t going to have any chance in the tournament. But we stayed together as a group and got three wins in a row against three very tough teams.”

P.J. Hairston – playing with eight stitches on the webbing between his fingers – nailed six 3-pointers and led UNC with 28 points.

Senior center Reggie Johnson saw just three minutes of playing time on Sunday, partly because Miami coach Jim Larranaga used a smaller lineup to combat the Tar Heels’ scoring outburst from beyond the arc.

“We were scoring so effectively at our end,” Larranaga said. “We were shooting the 3 about as well as they were. Just a tremendous college basketball game and we’re thrilled to be the ACC Tournament champions for 2013.”

The performance earned Miami a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the Canes will face 15th-seeded Pacific on Friday in Austin, Texas.

Louisville was awarded the tournament’s top overall seed, while Indiana, Gonzaga and Kansas also received No. 1 seeds. If Miami defeats Pacific, the Hurricanes will play the winner of Illinois/Colorado for a spot in the Sweet 16.