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  • North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and players react after a basket against Miami during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Friday, March 09, 2018 12:12 am

North Carolina beats Miami 82-65 and gets Duke next at ACC

RALPH D. RUSSO | Associated Press

NEW YORK – Theo Pinson scored a career-high 25 points and had 11 rebounds, lifting No. 12 North Carolina while its other stars were struggling, and the Tar Heels beat Miami 82-65 on Thursday night to set up a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference semifinal meeting with Duke in Brooklyn.

The fifth-seeded Tar Heels (24-9) face the fifth-ranked and second-seeded Blue Devils for the third time this season on Friday night for a spot in the championship game – just as the rivals did last year in the tournament's debut at Barclays Center. It will be the 22nd time Duke and North Carolina play in the ACC Tournament. Duke leads 13-8.

Ja'Quan Newton, who beat North Carolina nine days ago in Chapel Hill with a 40-foot buzzer beater, scored 17 points for third-seeded Miami (22-9).

Pinson scored 10 points in 3 1/2 minutes of the second half, including a corner 3 to make it 69-63 with 4:25 left. Forty-two seconds later, Pinson dribbled through the Miami press and threw down a slam that had the UNC fans chanting "Taarrr! Heels!"

The defending national champions needed the senior, because the Heels' top two scorers were off.

Luke Maye, UNC's leading scorer, went 1 for 15 from the field and point guard Joel Berry II shot 4 for 14, playing through a twisted ankle.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels have been gritty and Pinson has been brilliant in pulling away from Syracuse and Miami here in Brooklyn. But they'll need to knock down more shots to deal with Duke. Other than Pinson, the Tar Heels were 20 for 59 from the field (34 percent).

Miami: Freshman Chris Lykes and Lonnie Walker IV have stepped up for Miami since Bruce Brown was injured 12 games ago. Against UNC, they shot a combined 7 for 25.


North Carolina went almost 7 minutes without scoring to start the game, missing its first 13 shots and falling behind 14-0. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams got so exasperated by his team he made a wholesale lineup change, all five starters out at once. The Duke fans who remained at Barclays after watching their team win the earlier game had a blast watching the Tar Heels struggle.

Backup point guard Seventh Woods snapped the drought for UNC with a three-point play at 12:51.

The Tar Heels then finished with a flourish and grabbed the halftime lead when Cameron Johnson was fouled by Walker while getting off a 60-foot heave to beat the first-half buzzer. Johnson made all three free throws to put the Heels up 32-31 heading to the locker room.


Miami's Anthony Lawrence played only 10 minutes of the first half after he appeared to tweak his ankle. He returned for the second half and hit a couple early 3s. In a span of about 2 minutes of clock time early in the second, Berry and Johnson both left the game after getting banged up. Berry twisted his left ankle getting off a shot, went to the locker room and returned within minutes. He re-entered when Johnson left after 245-pound Ebuka Izundu of Miami made a leap to block a shot and landed on Johnson's back.

Soon after Berry landed an elbow to Izundu's face as he was scoring over the Miami big man and was called for a foul.

Johnson came back with what North Carolina called a hip injury.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels split with Duke this season, each winning at home. The Blue Devils won on Saturday 74-65.

Miami: The Hurricanes' next stop is the NCAA Tournament


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