Scott leads Miami past NC State in ACC semifinals

The SportsXchange

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami guard Durand Scott was voted the Atlantic Coast Conference's top defensive player a few days ago.

He still has plenty of ammunition at the offensive end, too.

"My teammates are the ones that find me out there, got me open, just told me stuff to get me confident," Scott said. "I am really happy that we won this game and got another chance to go out there and win a championship."

The senior poured in a career-high 32 points to help the ninth-ranked Hurricanes defeat North Carolina State, 81-71, in the semifinals of the ACC tournament on Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

"He was on fire offensively," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "But he plays great defense every night. This game kind of symbolizes the kind of player he has been for four years."

Scott, who fouled out with 1:53 remaining, scored the second-most points of any player in the nine tournament games here this week.

"There were times when I had to focus in on making a shot," Scott said.

Top-seeded Miami (26-6) meets the winner of the Maryland-North Carolina semifinal in the final at 1 p.m. ET Sunday. It will be the first ACC tournament final for the Hurricanes, who might have a chance for a No. 1 regional seed for the NCAA tournament.

Guard Shane Larkin added 23 points for Miami, which never trailed and held a lead as large as 19 points in the first half.

"We try to be the best backcourt every night and I feed off his energy and he feeds off me," Larkin said of Scott. "I'm just grateful that he's on my team."

Fifth-seeded N.C. State (24-10) is expected to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Scott Wood scored 21 points, C.J. Leslie added 14 and T.J. Warren, before fouling out, had 13 for the Wolfpack.

Scott's college career picked up steam during an ACC tournament semifinal in the same building when he was a freshman in 2010. He racked up 21 points in a narrow defeat to eventual national champion Duke.

"When I walked into the building a lot of people remembered me and they were like, 'Do you remember this building and how you did your freshman year?' " Scott said. "They reminded me of my performance, but that was the past."

N.C. State, the league's preseason favorite, won't forget what he did Saturday. Scott made 5 of 8 attempts from 3-point range.

"He had his jump shot going," Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. "We got up on him and he was able to beat us off the dribble."

Scott, who's the team's third-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, scored the first five Miami points of the second half before going to the bench after apparently being hit in the face. He was back after a short break, but N.C. State got back into the game for a while.

The Wolfpack closed to within 50-44 on Wood's 3-pointer with 12 minutes to play.

Miami led by as much as 39-20 in the first half, turning thousands of Wolfpack fans nearly silent for stretches.

"We had a day, and we haven't had many like that, where we just could not get going offensively," Gottfried said. "We were just in too big of a hole. That first half just was not us."

But in the last 1:02 of the half, Wood scored seven points and Lorenzo Brown hit two free throws as the Wolfpack pulled to within 41-29 despite missing three foul shots in the last 10 seconds.

Earlier, Scott racked up 11 points as the Hurricanes took a 14-5 lead in the first nine-plus minutes.

N.C. State was scoreless for nearly the first 5 1/2 minutes, coming up empty on eight consecutive possessions. However, Miami managed only a 5-0 edge during that stretch.

"We were getting good shots," N.C. State guard Rodney Purvis said. "We put ourselves in a hole and it was hard to get out of."

Notes: Miami won the only regular-season meeting between the teams, 79-78, on Feb. 2 in Raleigh on Reggie Johnson's tip-in. ... Miami was in the semifinals for only the second time, while N.C. State played in the semifinals for the 10th time in 15 years. ... N.C. State was aiming for its 25th victory, something it hasn't reached since the 1983 national championship team. ... With 48 victories in the last two seasons, it's the most in back-to-back seasons for N.C. State since a two-year period ending in 1982-83.
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