Jim Larranaga

Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) gives a high-five to guard Marial Shayok (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference  men'stournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Washington. Virginia defeated Miami 73-68. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
AP Photo/Steve Helber

No. 4 Virginia beats No. 11 Miami to reach ACC title game

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WASHINGTON (AP) Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points and No. 4 Virginia beat 11th-ranked Miami 73-68 Friday night to set up a showdown with North Carolina in the conference title game.

Virginia (26-6) and No. 7 UNC could each become NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds after impressive showings this week. Against Miami (25-7), the Cavaliers led wire-to-wire to the delight of the crowd that made Verizon Center feel like a home game.

Ja’Quan Newton had 19 points off the bench to lead Miami.

Beginning with Brogdon’s 3-pointer 48 seconds in, Virginia led the entire first half. The Cavaliers went up by as many as 11 as eight different players scored but watched as Miami went on a 6-0 run to end the half and cut the margin to five.

Facing the same kind of hostile environment as Thursday night against Virginia Tech, Miami cut it as close as three points. A series of turnovers stunted the comeback bid, and Brogdon went to work scoring and playmaking.

With help from Marial Shayok (10 points) and London Perrantes (11 points), Virginia pulled away to lead by 13 with 3:10 left. The Hurricanes must now turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament, where they’re expected to be a high seed.

UNC routed Notre Dame Friday to make it to the title game. Virginia won the teams’ only meeting Feb. 27 in Charlottesville. The game features the top two seeds after the top four reached the semifinals.

“The ACC is a great conference,” UNC forward Justin Jackson said. “So at the end of the day, that’s what you expect in the championship game: to have two really good teams.”

TIP-INS

Miami: Ivan Cruz Uceda did not play in the quarterfinal victory because of Virginia Tech’s speed, according to coach Jim Larranaga, who said the big forward would be a “major player” against Virginia. Cruz Uceda scored all eight of his points in the first half. … Senior guard Sheldon McClellan fouled out with 46.2 seconds left. He finished with 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting.

Virginia: Brogdon went 10 of 11 from the free throw line. … Virginia reached the ACC final for the sixth time in school history. … Last won the conference tournament in 2014. … The last time Virginia played in a game where each team shot over 50 percent was Dec. 7, 2013, against Green Bay.

UP NEXT

Virginiai: Faces seventh-ranked North Carolina for the conference title Saturday.

Miami: NCAA Tournament.

McClellan, Newton lead No. 17 Miami past Georgia Tech 75-68

Miami guard Sheldon McClellan (10) dunks against Notre Dame in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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ATLANTA (AP) Sheldon McClellan scored 22 points and Ja’Quan Newton hit a huge 3-pointer to lead No. 17 Miami to its fifth win in six games, 75-68 over Georgia Tech on Sunday.

In a game that was tight all the way, the Hurricanes (18-4, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) were clinging to a 63-60 lead with the shot clock running down when Newton hurled up a desperation shot from the corner with 1:49 remaining.

Nothing but net.

Georgia Tech (12-11, 2-8) lost another tight one in the ACC, keeping the heat on embattled coach Brian Gregory. All eight of its conference defeats have been by less than 10 points, little consolation to a program that has struggled throughout Gregory’s five-year tenure.

Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 19 points to lead the Yellow Jackets before a sparse crown at McCamish Pavilion.

Miami made nine straight free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.

Cat Barber, NC State front court handle No. 15 Miami

Miami's Angel Rodriguez (13) dibbles the ball past North Carolina State's Anthony Barber (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
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NC State junior Cat Barber has been one of the nation’s best point guards, and Saturday afternoon he added another piece of evidence to that argument by scoring 30 points in the Wolfpack’s 85-69 win over No. 15 Miami.

With the 30 points Barber reached that mark for the third time in the last four games, shooting 10-for-18 from the field and 10-for-10 from the foul line to go along with four assists against the Hurricanes. Given the importance of Barber to NC State he’s on the receiving end of a lot of attention from opposing defenses, but against Miami that didn’t matter as the junior was able to get to his preferred spots off the dribble throughout the game.

However it wasn’t perimeter play that cost Miami, as the Hurricanes received solid performances from its perimeter rotation including Sheldon McClellan (18 points) and Angel Rodriguez (15 points, six assists) What ultimately cost the Hurricanes was the fact that their front court was outworked by NC State throughout the day.

Kamari Murphy and Tonye Jekiri combined for ten points and nine rebounds, and Ivan Cruz Uceda went scoreless in his ten minutes off the bench. By comparison the NC State tandem of Abdul-Malik Abu and Caleb Martin combined for 32 points and 14 boards, with BeeJay Anya contributing seven rebounds. NC State limited Miami to 39.7 percent shooting and closed out many of those possessions with a rebound, grabbing 88.6 percent of the Hurricanes’ missed shots.

Add in a 34-20 edge in points in the paint, and NC State won the game by controlling the action within the most valuable piece of real estate on the court.

Given NC State’s lack of depth their margin for error is small, and it forces Barber to play major minutes while also being asked to both score and distribute the basketball. But there’s still talent at Mark Gottfried’s disposal, and when they’re clicking NC State is capable of taking advantage. Miami, which needs more from its big men moving forward, found that out the hard way.

No. 15 Miami halts 2-game skid with 67-53 win over BC

Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga gathers his team around him after calling a timeout late the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Boston College, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
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BOSTON (AP) Sheldon McClellan scored 19 points, Ja’Quan Newton had 12 and No. 15 Miami rebounded from consecutive losses with a 67-53 win over Boston College on Wednesday night.

It was the 11th straight victory for the Hurricanes (14-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) against Boston College. Tonye Jekiri matched his career high with 17 rebounds, and Angel Rodriguez scored 12 points.

Jerome Robinson led the Eagles (7-11, 0-5) with 20 points and leading scorer Eli Carter had 12 on 4-for-18 shooting.

It was BC’s fifth straight loss. The previous four – all in conference games – were by an average of 22.5 points.

Closing a stretch of three road games in nine days, Miami rode a solid start in the second half by Rodriguez, who scored nine points to help the Hurricanes open a 45-35 lead with 14:15 to play.

BC sliced it to 45-41 on Darryl Hicks’ 3-pointer from the right corner with just more than 14 minutes to play.

Miami, which seemed to be relaxing on the defensive end of the floor on many possessions early in the second half, pushed its lead to 56-49 on Newton’s baseline jumper with 5:45 to go.

The Eagles never trimmed their deficit below five points the rest of the way. They didn’t have a basket in the final 7 minutes.

In the first half, the Hurricanes pounded the ball inside early and took advantage of nine BC turnovers in the opening 11 minutes to build a six-point edge before the Eagles answered with a 10-1 spree.

Miami closed the half by scoring eight of the final 12 points to grab a 29-28 advantage at halftime.

Neither team was crisp offensively in the opening 20 minutes, at times turning the ball over on consecutive possessions.

TIP-INS

Miami: The Hurricanes lost road games at Virginia and Clemson in their previous two. . Coach Jim Larranaga improved to 9-0 against BC since taking over the Hurricanes.

Boston College: Carter entered third in the conference in scoring at 17.6 points per game. He had 31 in a loss at then-No. 20 Pittsburgh on Saturday.

HONOREE

BC honored wounded veteran Cedric King at halftime, playing a video tribute from First Lady Michelle Obama. King then walked out to center court to a long standing ovation. It was part of Military Appreciation Night.

UP NEXT

Miami hosts Wake Forest on Saturday.

Boston College plays at Notre Dame on Saturday.

Clemson claims another ranked victim in No. 8 Miami

Clemson's Donte Grantham (15) and Jaron Blossomgame (5), with coaches Brad Brownell, right, and Richie Riley, left celebrate after an NCAA college basketball game against Duke on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. Clemson won 68-63. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Clemson began its toughest stretch of the season Sunday night against No. 16 Louisville, with that being followed by games against No. 9 Duke and No. 8 Miami. And given how the Tigers played in non-conference play, going 0-3 wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. However Brad Brownell’s team has been playing good basketball of late, and Saturday afternoon the Tigers picked up their third straight win over a ranked opponent, beating the Hurricanes 76-65 in Greenville.

So within a calendar week, Clemson’s knocked off No. 16 Louisville, No. 9 Duke and No. 8 Miami. And now they’re 5-1 in ACC play and have the look of a team that could have some staying power in what should be a very tough conference race.

The biggest change for the Tigers has been the play of junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, who scored 25 points against the Hurricanes and has now scored in double figures in all six of Clemson’s ACC games. Blossomgame played part of the non-conference slate at less than full strength, and that had an impact from a consistency standpoint. Now back to 100 percent, he’s been a consistent scorer on multiple levels for a team that at times struggled offensively before ACC play began.

Against Miami the junior was productive both inside and out, scoring his 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field (2-for-3 3PT) and 5-for-5 from the foul line. Consistency’s also been a key for sophomore forward Donte Grantham, who scored 14 points Saturday and has reached double figures in four of Clemson’s five ACC wins. The triumvirate of Blossomgame, Grantham and Landry Nnoko took advantage of a shorthanded Duke front court on Wednesday, and they once again held the edge against a Miami front court with no such depth concerns.

Add in 18 points and six assists from Jordan Roper, who outplayed Miami’s Angel Rodriguez (three points on 1-for-7 FG, three assists), and Clemson was able to do enough to close out another impressive victory.

As is the case with players such as Grantham from an individual standpoint, the difference in Clemson from non-conference play to now boils down to one word: consistency. Now that guys who were expected to be key contributors when the season began are proving themselves to be reliable night in and night out, Clemson’s been able to string together wins few expected them to get.

This tough stretch of games isn’t done yet, as the Tigers’ next two games are against Virginia (in Charlottesville) and Pittsburgh, but at this rate it wouldn’t be wise to automatically count Clemson out.

No. 13 Miami pulls away late to beat Syracuse 64-51

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga speaks to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Princeton at the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. Miami won 76-64. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) The seeds for this win were planted more than two years ago, when Ja’Quan Newton turned down a scholarship offer from Syracuse and committed to play for Miami.

It stung the Orange then, and hurts even more now.

Sheldon McClellan scored 22 points, Newton made two big 3-pointers in the second half to kick start a Miami offense that was dreadful for most of the game, and the 13th-ranked Hurricanes pulled away late to beat Syracuse 64-51 on Saturday.

Newton finished with 14 points for Miami (12-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won its seventh straight despite missing its first 16 tries from 3-point range. Newton was 2 for 2 from beyond the arc, while his teammates were a combined 1 for 23.

“The whole game, they were playing off me,” said Newton, who pulled a groin muscle in the final minutes. “I noticed it in the first half. … They were a big two 3’s, the biggest two 3’s of the game, probably.”

Not probably. There’s no doubt.

“The difference in the game,” Syracuse interim coach Mike Hopkins said of Newton’s 3-pointers. “Got to give him a lot of credit.”

Both of Newton’s 3’s gave Miami the lead, the second one putting the Hurricanes on top for good and starting a 12-0 run that would give them a 56-44 edge with 2:46 left.

Malachi Richardson scored 20 points for Syracuse (10-5, 0-2), which has dropped its first two league games for the first time since it started the 1998-99 Big East season 0-2.

Michael Gbinije added 10 points for the Orange, who were outscored 47-26 in the second half.

“Second tough road game that our kids played in and they gave a great effort,” Hopkins said. “They really executed defensively.”

The Orange led 25-17 after the first 20 minutes, absolutely frustrating a Miami team that came in averaging 85 points on 51 percent shooting. The Hurricanes were shooting only 19 percent at the break – and missed all 11 of their 3-point attempts. And if not for McClellan managing 11 points by halftime, it could have been much worse for Miami.

“Players respond to challenges one of two ways,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “Either they start thinking negatively … or they respond positively and start to dig down deeper defensively.”

TIP-INS

Syracuse: Hopkins is 4-4 as the replacement for Orange coach Jim Boeheim, who is one game from satisfying the nine-game suspension handed down as part of Syracuse’s NCAA sanctions. … The Orange have lost six straight road games going back to last season – that doesn’t count their three neutral-site wins at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November – and have dropped their last five ACC games.

Miami: The Hurricanes improved to 4-8 in their ACC openers. … It was the second straight slow start for Miami, which had 27 first-half points against Princeton. Until Saturday, that was Miami’s season-low for a half. … Miami improved to 7-1 at home. … The Hurricanes got to the line 34 times, compared with 14 for the Orange.

ODD CONSISTENCY

Syracuse shot 9 for 28 in the first half, and shot exactly that again in the second half. Miami, after a 5 for 27 start to the game, finished by making 13 of its last 25 attempts. “That 2-3 zone is really annoying,” McClellan said.

ORANGE EVERYWHERE

The seats at Bank United Center were mostly filled with orange-clad fans – which, ordinarily, would be a good thing for Miami and its orange-and-green color scheme. But included in that crowd was a contingent of about 2,500 Syracuse backers, many of whom made the trip from Central New York as an escape now that winter has finally seemed to strike. Temperatures at game time: 80 in Coral Gables, 32 in Syracuse.

UP NEXT:

Syracuse: Hosts Clemson on Tuesday.

Miami: Hosts Florida State on Jan. 9.