Miami Hurricanes

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ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”

Late free throws push No. 22 Virginia past Miami

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Kihei Clark made both ends of a one-and-one with eight seconds left to provide the winning margin and No. 22 Virginia beat Miami 46-44 on Wednesday night for its seventh victory in a row.

Six of the Cavaliers’ victories during the streak have been by a total of 13 points.

Junior Jay Huff led Virginia with 17 points — and they were the Cavaliers’ first 17 points of the game. Mamadi Diakite had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Virginia (22-7, 14-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) hasn’t lost since Feb. 8 against Louisville. The teams meet again Saturday in Charlottesville.

Miami (14-15, 6-13) lost its third game in a row and is winless in seven games against ranked teams this season.

Keith Stone’s 3-pointer for Miami with 2:16 to go made it 44-all. The Hurricanes then committed a turnover and missed two shots before freshman Harlond Beverly fouled Clark near the midcourt stripe.

After the Virginia sophomore sank both free throws, Miami’s DJ Vasiljevic missed a runner from 10 feet.

The Cavaliers won even though they missed their final six shots and went without a field goal for the final 4:46. They shot 37 percent but won while scoring less than 50 points for the fourth time this season, and held an opponent under 50 for the 12th time.

Chris Lykes led Miami with 16 points but cut his eye in a scrum with 12 minutes left and missed the rest of the game. The Hurricanes trailed 33-30 when he departed.

The score was 9-9 after 13 minutes before the offensive pace picked up.

The first half was a two-man show. Huff was the only Cavaliers player to score in the first 16:42. Lykes scored 14 points in the opening half, including a buzzer-beater to cut Virginia’s lead to 24-23 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

The Cavaliers, ranked for the first time since early January, helped their chances of remaining in the Top 25 next week.

The Hurricanes have lost 17 games in a row against ranked teams. Their most recent win came in February 2018 at No. 9 North Carolina.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers play at home Saturday against No. 10 Louisville, which won 80-73 when the teams met on Feb. 8.

Miami: The Hurricanes conclude the regular season Saturday at home against Syracuse. The Orange have won three of the past four meetings.

Miami lands Florida grad-transfer Keith Stone

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Keith Stone is leaving the SEC but not the state of Florida.

The former Gator will finish his career at Miami as a graduate transfer, he announced Monday via social media.

The 6-foot-8 Stone is from Deerfield, Fla., less than an hour’s ride from Miami Beach. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season before tearing his ACL in January. With Dewan Hernandez, Ebuka Izundu, and Anthony Lawrence all gone from the Canes, Stone could be in line for a major role right from the jump if his knee gets back to full strength.

Miami went 14-18 last season to finish under .500 for the first time in Jim Larranaga’s eight seasons, and it was just the second time the Canes failed to win at least 20 games.

Blackshear, No. 16 Virginia Tech beat Miami 71-56 in ACCs

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ty Outlaw and No. 16 Virginia Tech got a quick offensive start. The Hokies didn’t need a whole lot more to advance in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Outlaw hit three 3-pointers during the Hokies’ game-opening 11-point run and they never trailed in beating Miami 71-56 on Wednesday in the second round.

Kerry Blackshear had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Hokies (24-7). They ran out to a 20-point lead before halftime, then turned away Miami’s last serious push early in the second half with a 20-5 run that drove the margin past 20 again.

“When you have teammates like ours, it makes the game a lot easier from the start, whether we’re hitting or not, because everybody is a threat,” Blackshear said. “We know that when somebody is hot, that’s the person we’re going to find.

“We know that each person is going to make the right basketball play for our team, whether that be taking their own shot, finding somebody else, setting a screen, anything like that.”

The numbers sure looked good for Virginia Tech, which shot 50 percent and made 11 of 27 3-pointers to beat the 12th-seeded Hurricanes for a third time this season — all by double-figure margins.

Virginia Tech twice made at least five straight shots during the game.

“They move the ball extremely fast to basically four guards on the perimeter and a big guy who can really handle,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “All five guys shoot the 3. They spread you out.

“Their touches — where it’s in your hand and out of your hand without dribbling — gives them a chance to get open shots. The defense can’t move as fast as the ball can.”

Chris Lykes scored 19 points for Miami (14-18) which never gave itself much of a chance by falling behind big from the jump and shooting just 34 percent.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: The Hurricanes’ first-round win against Wake Forest on Tuesday ensured they would win at least one game in the ACC Tournament in seven of Larranaga’s eight seasons as coach. That turned out to be the only highlight in a two-day stay in Charlotte at the end of a frustrating season, which included never having 6-foot-11 forward Dewan Hernandez — who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of his dealings with an agent and ultimately left school to pursue a professional career. Larranaga has his first losing season since going 9-18 in his first year at George Mason in 1997-98, and he had won at least 20 games in six of his first seven seasons with the Hurricanes.

“It was very, very challenging to have only seven scholarship players available to us,” Larranaga said. “It was very hard to prepare and practice properly. Because, amongst those seven players, they were dealing with injuries.”

Virginia Tech: The Hokies won’t have point guard Justin Robinson for the ACC Tournament as he continues to deal with a foot injury that has sidelined him since late January. That wasn’t a problem in their tournament debut.

LYKES’ INJURY

The 5-7 Lykes, Miami’s leading scorer at 16.2 points, was helped off after he suffered a right-ankle injury when landing on a layup with 3:24 left. Larranaga said afterward that Lykes was getting an X-ray.

Larranaga said he was “hoping it’s not bad, but I’m not optimistic.”

OUTLAW’S START

Outlaw scored all 14 of his points in the first half, including the three 3s in the first 4 1/2 minutes in a sign of how Outlaw says he’s “ready to shoot whenever (teammates kick it out.”

“If he has space and he has 10 toes to the rim, I think he’s an elite level shooter,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said.

RUN IT BACK

Virginia Tech closed the regular season with a loss at Florida State followed by a home win against Miami. Now, after beating the Hurricanes, they’re playing the Seminoles again.

“It’s strange, right?” Williams said. “We’re living last week in reverse this week.”

UP NEXT

The Hokies will face 12th-ranked and fourth-seeded Florida State in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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Alexander-Walker leads No. 15 Virginia Tech past Miami

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BLACKSBURG, Va. — In a pregame ceremony, the Virginia Tech recognized three seniors who arguably changed the fortunes of the program. Then, a sophomore stole the show.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and No. 15 Virginia Tech beat Miami 84-70 on Friday night to tie the school record for regular-season victories with 23.

Playing mostly at the point guard position, Alexander-Walker was 6 of 14 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Hokies (23-7, 12-6 Atlantic Coast Conference). The sophomore also tied his career high with eight assists.

“It was all about our seniors,” Alexander-Walker said. “The fact that I could be there for them was huge.”

Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw had strong performances in their last home game for the Hokies. Outlaw scored 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and Hill added 17 points and connected on five 3s as well.

Ebuka Izundu and Chris Lykes had 16 points each for Miami (13-16, 5-13).

In addition to celebrating its seniors, Virginia Tech celebrated doing something that only one other team in school history had done — win 23 games in a regular season. The 2009-10 team won 23 games, but a soft nonconference schedule relegated that team to the NIT.

“In year No. 1 (2014-15), we won 11 percent of our ACC games, and after tonight, we’ve won at a 67-percent clip when 10 of those games — five were played with seven guys in uniform and the other five were played with eight guys in uniform,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “I think it’s off the chart.”

Virginia Tech trailed 16-8 before the Hokies found their shooting stroke and buried Miami, outscoring the ‘Canes 32-6 over a span of nearly nine minutes. The Hokies hit six of their nine first-half 3-pointers during that stretch and scored on 13 of 15 possessions.

In the second half, Miami sliced a 45-31 halftime deficit to 11 on a 3-pointer by Zach Johnson, but the Hokies answered with a 14-4 run. Wabissa Bede’s left-handed layup with 12:38 remaining pushed the lead to 61-40.

“The group I started in the second half has never played a second together,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We were just looking for something that might create some mismatches for them. It kept us inching closer … but then again we made some critical errors and missing some shots. We needed up not shooting the ball well from 3, and if we don’t shoot the ball well from 3, we’re going to have a hard time of winning.”

Virginia Tech shot 49.2 percent from the floor (29 of 59) and hit 14 3-pointers.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies basically played their 10th straight game without point guard Justin Robinson, who has been out with an injured foot. Williams ceremoniously started Robinson in his final home. Kerry Blackshear Jr. took the opening tip and tipped it out of bounds, allowing Williams to substitute for Robinson, whom the Hokies hope to get back at some point this season. Robinson was averaging 14.4 points and 5.5 assists before the injury.

Miami: Lykes came into the game averaging 16.2 points per game and ranking in the top 10 in the ACC in scoring — and he finished right on that average. But the sophomore struggled from the floor against the Hokies, hitting just 5 of 15. He missed his first seven 3-point attempts, which was emblematic of Miami’s struggles from the perimeter. The ‘Canes made just six of their 29 3-point attempts.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Virginia Tech lost to Florida State in overtime on Tuesday in Tallahassee, Florida, which certainly is no shame considering the Seminoles’ No. 14 ranking. So the Hokies figure to stay at or near No. 15 in next Monday’s poll.

UP NEXT

ACC Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Barrett, Reddish lead No. 3 Duke past Miami, 87-57

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DURHAM, N.C. — Jack White took the pass from Tre Jones in the left corner, squared to the basket and launched a 3-pointer.

Unlike the previous 28 he shot, this one went in.

His slump is over, and now No. 3 Duke hopes its slide is, too.

The Blue Devils routed Miami 87-57 on Saturday behind 19 points and 10 rebounds from RJ Barrett and 19 points from fellow freshman Cameron Reddish.

With national player of the year candidate Zion Williamson sidelined for a third straight game with a mild right knee sprain, Duke (25-4, 13-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) never trailed and shot 57 percent to bounce back from its second loss in three games — which coincided with Williamson’s injury.

“Everyone plays their part in the team and does their thing, but our focus right now is to get Zion healthy and get everyone healthy and feeling good,” White said. “Just trying to have everyone playing their best basketball by that point. But you know, it’s not just about me — it’s a team effort.”

White’s struggles from 3-point range had taken on a life of their own. He hadn’t hit one since Jan. 12 at Florida State, was 0 for 10 in a loss to Syracuse two nights after that and missed all 12 he attempted in the month of February.

“I haven’t gone through a stretch like that before in my life,” said White, who went 3 for 3 from 3-point range. “Towards the latter end of it, it was more surprising than anything when I’d miss because I’d felt good and I was like, `Why?”

When he finally swished one with 12:34 left in the first half against the Hurricanes, Cameron Indoor Stadium erupted with arguably its loudest cheers of the season and the Crazies chanted “Jack is back.”

“I was really happy for him,” Barrett said, “but I had to get back on defense.”

It wasn’t just a feel-good moment for White and the Blue Devils. It started the run that completely overwhelmed the Hurricanes. Starting with that shot, Duke outscored Miami 36-11 over the final 12-plus minutes of the half.

Chris Lykes, who scored in double figures in 24 of Miami’s previous 27 games, finished with four points on 1-of-15 shooting while being hounded by Jones. The Hurricanes trailed by 25 when he hit his only bucket.

Anthony Lawrence and Ebuka Izundu scored 15 points each for the Hurricanes (12-16, 4-12). They have lost nine of 12 and haven’t won a road game in more than 12 months.

“For the first time all season, I thought our emotions were maybe a little bit out of control,” coach Jim Larranaga said. “We couldn’t calm ourselves down to make a free throw or a shot or make a good pass or good decision.”

BIG PICTURE

Miami: Asking the depleted Hurricanes to snap their yearlong road losing streak at Cameron seemed like a tall order — even against a Duke team missing its headliner. Miami fell to 0-9 on the road this season, 0-8 in the conference and were playing four days after blowing a 10-point lead in the final 2 minutes of a loss at Wake Forest. It’s effectively come to this for the Hurricanes — either win at Virginia Tech next week, or carry their road slide into 2019-20.

Duke: Barrett averages an ACC-best 23.3 points, has led the league in scoring virtually all season and has shouldered the scoring load in Williamson’s absence. Barrett entered averaging 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists while shooting 51 percent, and with his godfather — two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash — sitting behind the Duke bench, he finished three assists shy of his second triple-double in two weeks.

“With Zion being out, everybody kind of gets the ball more, everybody has to make more plays,” Barrett said.

ZION WATCH

Coach Mike Krzyzewski says there is “no time pressure” on Williamson, adding that the star freshman and second-leading scorer in the ACC “hasn’t done anything with contact” since he was injured in the opening minute of a loss to North Carolina on Feb. 21. “We’re not in any hurry or whatever,” Krzyzewski said.