Rushed Reactions: Miami 81, NC State 71Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013
Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Miami’s win over NC State in the ACC semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
Three Key Takeaways:
- NC State is Dangerous: Don’t count NC State out after this loss. The Wolfpack were tired and beat up. They ran into a buzzsaw Miami backcourt and couldn’t overcome a slow start and bad free throw shooting. But they didn’t give up down the stretch. Richard Howell was playing with a deep bruise on his thigh, visibly hurting, but he hit the floor trying for loose balls just like always. One thing you know about NC State is that it will put points on the board (and a lot of them). Especially with Rodney Purvis acting as a defensive spark plug (coming into the season, who would’ve thought that?), there’s a lot to like about NC State’s chances in the Big Dance.
- Larkin and Scott Show: Durand Scott and Shane Larkin put on a clinic for Miami. They accounted for 68% of Miami’s points and also dished out a combined eight assists. When NC State tried to make a game of it, Larkin iced the game with free throws. One area Larkin has really improved this season is his decision-making. He still gets up in the air without knowing what he’ll do, and definitely makes high risk plays from time to time. But Larkin’s strength is his ability to play near the edge. Where last season his high risk plays ended in turnovers, his maturity is really showing this year by dropping his turnover percentage five points despite increased possessions.
- Miami’s Weapons: Here’s the scary thing with Miami. Larkin and Scott ruled the day, but Miami’s true strength is inside. Kenny Kadji had an off day–despite being a real mismatch for NC State — and Julian Gamble was relatively quiet despite being effective. It’s high time people realized Reggie Johnson isn’t going to be as efficient as in the past, but he still can be a very effective offensive player. Gamble is the most improved player in the ACC, maybe even the country. He’s incredibly light on his feet for his size and plays within himself.
Star of the Game: Durand Scott played like a man possessed. He played the best game of his career, bringing back memories of his dominant performance against Duke his freshman year (the 21-point performance in the ACC Tournament that caused many to rank Miami highly the next two years). After hitting a big three in the second to half — quieting the NC State run — Scott held his follow-through for a good five or six seconds.
Wildcard: Can Miami get a one-seed? It seems odd that the Hurricanes could win both the regular season and ACC Tournament championships, but Duke could pass them for the top seed line. But between Duke’s dominant non-conference play and Miami’s late-season struggles against Wake Forest and Georgia Tech (two bad losses), that’s probably what we’ll be looking at Selection Sunday regardless of how tomorrow turns out. That said, Miami looks really, really good and should have a two-seed locked up at this point.
Quotable: “Let me say this, because I was part of the media and I worked for ESPN and I hear about how leagues are deep and I look at Boston College, I look at Virginia Tech and Erick Green, who pounded Iowa, Virginia who beat Wisconsin on the road and look at Maryland and what they’re doing and I never hear anybody talk about our league and how deep the players are top to bottom.” — NC State coach Mark Gottfried
What’s Next: Miami will take on the winner of North Carolina and Maryland in the ACC Tournament finals and should be favored over both teams. The Hurricanes trounced the Tar Heels in both previous meetings, though North Carolina appears to be playing its best basketball of the season, discounting the Duke game. Maryland will be playing its fourth game in as many days, but has the size and athleticism to match up with Miami.