Greensboro, N.C. • Durand Scott knocked down the shots to turn away North Carolina State’s best pushes, and Shane Larkin provided the steady floor leadership that kept ninth-ranked Miami in control.
The backcourt that guided the Hurricanes to their first Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship now has them positioned to add the tournament title, too.
Scott scored a career-high 32 points to help the Hurricanes beat the Wolfpack 81-71 on Saturday in the ACC semifinals, earning the program’s first trip to the final.
Larkin added 23 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (26-6), who before Saturday had had reached the ACC semifinals just once before — as a No. 12 seed making a surprise run before falling to eventual national champion Duke in 2010. Now they’re heading to Sunday’s final to face No. 3 seed North Carolina.
“We’re a very hungry team, and we want more and more,” Larkin said. “We’re not satisfied with winning the regular season. We want the ACC championship, and then eventually we want to make the national championship game. We’re hungry, and we’re not going to settle for anything less.”
Miami led all day and by 19 points late in the first half against the fifth-seeded Wolfpack (24-10), who got within six after halftime but couldn’t dig out of that big hole.
Scott had a lot to do with that. The senior guard went 12 for 18 from the field and 5 for 8 from 3-point range to keep draining the energy from a home-state crowd wearing plenty of red.
Scott scored 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting as a freshman in the 2010 semifinal loss to the Blue Devils, then turned in an even bigger performance in the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday.
“When I walk into this building, there’s a lot of security guards, a lot of media people, a lot of people that work for the ACC — I think they remember me,” Scott said. “They always come up to me like, ‘You remember this building and how [you did] your freshman year’ and things like that. ... But I just tell them that was the past. That game can’t win us the game today, yesterday or tomorrow. I’ve just got to go out there and do what I need to do for my team to win, and that’s what I did tonight.”
North Carolina 79, Maryland 76 • Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock scored 15 points apiece and North Carolina held on to beat Maryland in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
P.J. Hairston scored 13 points despite a heavily wrapped and injured left (non-shooting) hand for the third-seeded Tar Heels (24-9), but his missed free throw with 16 seconds left gave Maryland a chance to force overtime. The Terps called time out with 10.9 seconds left, and Logan Aronhalt took the inbounds pass and immediately launched an off-balance 30-foot airball.
Bullock snatched the ball and passed to Hairston, who was all alone near midcourt, and the Tar Heels ran out the clock to clinch their league-record 32nd appearance in the title game.
Championship No. 9 Miami vs. North Carolina
P Sunday, 11 a.m.
TV • ESPN