GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Shane Larkin scored a career-high 28 points, eight in the final two and a half minutes, to help the Miami Hurricanes pull away from an intense challenge from the North Carolina Tar Heels and capture their first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship Sunday.
Trey McKinney Jones added a career-high 20 points for the top-seeded Hurricanes (27-6), including the go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:27 left.
In a terrific back-and-forth game filled with big shots, the Hurricanes finally slowed the third-seeded Tar Heels (24-10) enough down the stretch to secure what amounted to a road win 87-77 in front of UNC’s home-state crowd.
The Tar Heels hit 13 3-pointers, which fell one shy of tying the program’s record in the tournament. But it wasn’t enough to secure UNC’s first ACC title since 2008 or coach Roy Williams’ 700th career victory.
Larkin was chosen the tournament’s MVP after finishing as the runner-up for league player of the year to Virginia Tech’s Erick Green.
But Larkin was at his best when the Hurricanes needed him in a tight game to complete their surprise run from being picked fifth in the preseason poll to ACC champion.
Miami shot 51 percent and made 12 of 22 3-pointers, six coming from McKinney Jones and four from Larkin.
Miami used its size advantage against North Carolina’s four-guard lineup to take a 36-28 rebounding advantage that led to 13 second-chance points.
The Hurricanes certainly needed every bit of it to beat the Tar Heels for a third time this season.
Miami had blown out North Carolina by 26 points in February but didn’t put this one away until the final minutes.
Larkin went 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final minute to keep Miami in control.
It was an emotional moment for Miami seniors Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble, who were all part of the team that was a last-place seed in the 2010 tournament that made the program’s first run to the semifinals.
As the confetti fell from the rafters of the Greensboro Coliseum after the final horn, Scott leapt into the arms of Gamble, then shared a big hug with Johnson.
Miami ended up getting the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament’s East Region.
The Hurricanes will face 15th-seeded Pacific on Friday in their tournament opener in Austin, Texas.