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March 15, 2013

Canes wrestle game from BC in final 2 minutes














The good news for the top-seeded Hurricanes in their ACC Tournament victory over Boston College on Friday?

The Canes emerged with a 69-58 win.

The bad news?

Despite the final score the heavily favored Canes weren't able to control the game. It was a two-point contest entering the final two minutes.

A Larkin three-pointer with 1:49 left gave UM what felt like its first breathing room of the second half, putting Miami up by five. The Canes held on from there, finishing on a 13-4 run.

Miami now faces the winner of a game between Virginia and NC State.

"Well that was easy," coach Jim Larranaga told the media tongue-firmly-in-cheek after the game. "It's a terrific win for us. Boston College is a very difficult team for us to match up with. We're kind of big and they're kind of smaller and skilled and they spread you out and share the ball about as good as any team in the country.

"We knew we'd be in for a dogfight. We had a hard time guarding it even in practice. Thank God we were able to go small the last five minutes."

The Canes were led by Shane Larkin's 20 points and four assists. Kenny Kadji added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Trey McKinney Jones had 12 points, contributing a couple of timely threes.

"Tonight we did a good job," Larkin said. "We beat them 14-3 at the end of the game. We have a lot of seniors, experience. We stayed together with three minutes, said `Pull together right now, play good defense.' Defense is what's going to win us this championship. If we really lock in I think we have a pretty good chance."


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Of Larkin's play, Larranaga said, "In the first half I thought he was passive. In the second half he was very aggressive."

Larkin pointed to the team saying "stay together" at the end of huddles as a motto that served the team well today.

Asked if he was ever worried late in the game, Larkin said, "We just stayed together. When something goes bad we don't get down on ourselves. We always stay positive, try to encourage each other."

BC freshman Olivier Scanlan, who had 41 points in his team's first-round game, had 14.

"The last three minutes we just had mental breakdowns," Scanlan said. "Little things hurt us."

The Hurricanes hit 48.1 percent of their shots (eight of 24 threes) compared to BC's 42.2 percent (seven for 18 from long range). UM had a 32-24 rebounding edge.

"It was a team effort," guard Durand Scott said. "(Hanlan) did a great job yesterday of scoring 41 points - we knew we couldn't let him get going."

After UM began the game up by 11, 13-2, BC led by two at halftime. Neither team led by more than five until the final two minutes.

The biggest key to UM playing better after yielding the big lead in the first half?

"Halftime," Larranaga said. "They started out man-to-man and we were really playing well, sharing the ball, doing a great job defensively. … They switched to (pressing) and zone and we got passive. We didn't attack the way we wanted to. At halftime we put Kenny in the high post, telling Shane and Durand once you cross midcourt … attack."

UM had a huge experience edge in the game, with BC the league's most inexperienced team and UM the oldest in the ACC.

"I think experience always helps and our guys have a lot of confidence in ourselves," Larranaga said. "You have to give credit to BC. They had a great deal of confidence too. The game was tied with five minutes to go. We're very fortunate to move on."

Miami was in control at the start, jumping out to a 13-2 lead at the 15:18 mark after a four-point play from Kadji. It was 21-8 with under seven minutes left in the half. But a Ryan Anderson three-point play cut it to 23-19 with 4:08 to go, and after a Cane turnover an Anderson jumper made it 23-21. Then Durand Scott missed a short jumper and Hanlan laid the ball in on the other end and the game was tied with under three minutes to go in the half.

The 12-0 run ended when Scott put in a jumper with just over a minute to go.

But it was BC leading at halftime after an Anderson 15-footer with five seconds remaining, 27-25.

"We got off to a great start, were very aggressive," Larranaga said at halftime. "They went to that zone and we got very passive. We have to do better being aggressive against that.

"We've got to be more aggressive sharing the ball, attacking, penetrating. We're passing the ball around the rim settling for perimeter jump shots."

UM attacked more in the second half, but it stayed close.

The Hurricanes took the lead after an 8-0 run, going up by three after trailing by five. It was a pair of driving Larkin layups that gave the Canes their first lead of the second half with 12:04 left, 43-42. A long Larkin three made it 48-44, but with 6:42 to go a Hanlan free throw made it a 48-48 game.

On the next possession McKinney Jones hit a leaner to put Miami back in front, and after both teams missed shots Hanlan blew a wide open layup but BC maintained possession and Patrick Hechmann was fouled by Kadji while shooting a three.

He hit two of three free throws and with 5:03 left the game was again tied, this time at 50.

McKinney Jones hit an open three when his defender fell down, and a BC reverse layup made it 53-52 with the clock winding under four minutes. Kadji got room to work in the middle and put it in, making it 55-52, and then Heckmann got open in the right corner and put down a three to tie it up at 55. Scott was fouled on a drive with 3:01 to go and made both free throws.

Anderson missed a layup with a pair of defenders in his face, and then Kadji was whistled for an offensive foul with 2:11 to go. BC turned the ball over with Rion Brown saving the ball by flying out of bounds to tap it back.

"That was a big play for us," Larkin said.

And with 1:49 left Larkin hit a three from the left corner to give UM breathing room, 60-55.

"The three was a wide open shot," Larkin said.

Yet another turnover by the Eagles was followed by a Brown basket, and then a Boston College air ball with 50.1 seconds left essentially ended the Eagles' chances.

Kadji made one of two free throws and then Hanlan hit a three to make it 63-58.

A long inbound pass to Larkin led to an uncontested layup, and after BC missed a pair of free throws UM stayed in control.

"Defensively we made an adjustment and went with a very small lineup like we did in Boston to stop their ball screens," Larranaga said. "With five minutes left we felt like that was the best strategy."

BC coach Steve Donahue said that "I thought we played a very good basketball game. I was proud of our guys. I thought we played tough. … Give Miami credit. We couldn't stop them in the second half for the most part. That was the difference in the game. They got what they wanted.

"To beat a team like Miami you have to play great."

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