Reggie Johnson tipped-in a missed runner from Shane Larkin with 0.8 seconds left to give No. 14 Miami a 78-77 win over No. 19 NC State in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon.
Johnson finished with 15 points and eight boards as five Hurricanes played their way into double-figures, led by 18 points from Durand Scott.
NC State had control for much of the early part of the second half, but Miami used an 11-0 run to take a 67-62 lead with about six minutes left in the game, but the Wolfpack answered with a 12-2 run of their own, taking a five point lead with just three minutes left.
But that’s when bad NC State showed back up. On their last five possessions, NC State managed two turnovers, a missed front-end from CJ Leslie and a questionable pull-up jumper from Tyler Lewis with a 78-77 lead and just 20 seconds left on the clock.
Leslie led the way for the Wolfpack with 18 points and 12 boards. NC State was playing without Lorenzo Brown, who had an injured ankle.
And that injury to Brown is the reason why it’s risky to put too much stock into the outcome of this game.
NC State played great for 37 minutes, but struggled to execute down the stretch. Could that have changed with Brown on the floor?
Miami’s vaunted defense against the Wolfpack, but how much of that was a product of playing one of the most potent offenses in the country on the road?
Was this Tyler Lewis — 16 points, five assists, just a single turnover — performance a fluke because Miami hadn’t had a chance to scout him properly?
The difference in this game was a single-point; a basket scored on a tip-in with 0.8 seconds left on the clock. Can we really define either team on a game that was that tightly contested?
The only lasting opinion that can be made is that the Wolfpack now have essentially no chance of winning the ACC regular season title. That tip-in by Johnson? It game kept Miami undefeated in the ACC, two games in front of Virginia and Duke and three games ahead of North Carolina.
They’re all the way back in fifth place, four games behind the Hurricanes in the loss column. A win — which was as close as a simple box out — and they would have been two games back of the Hurricanes.
That’s a two game swing. Keep that in mind come March.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.