ACC leader Miami nips Wolfpack on last-second tip in Raleigh
Miami teamed its twin towers to erase a double-digit deficit at N.C. State on Saturday.
After subbing one for the other in the final seconds, one half of the duo supplied the winning play.
Reggie Johnson’s left-handed tip-in with 0.8 seconds on the clock provided the winning basket as the No. 14 Hurricanes edged No. 19 N.C. State 79-78 in ACC basketball at PNC Arena.
Johnson, a Winston-Salem native, and Durham’s Julian Gamble, a fellow 6-10 senior center, combined for 31 points and 12 rebounds for the ACC-leading Hurricanes (17-3, 8-0). They scored 23 points in the second half after N.C. State (16-6, 5-4) held a 40-34 halftime lead.
“They want to play well when they come back home because they have a lot of family here,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “The two of them really I think really rose to the challenge. We were really challenged tonight and we really delivered.”
Johnson, who missed a month with a broken left thumb before returning for Miami’s epic 90-63 win over Duke on Jan. 23, made the final difference.
N.C. State, which led 54-44 with 13:53 to play and 76-71 with 2:09 left, saw a chance to build some breathing room evaporate in the final minute. With the Wolfpack up 78-76, C.J. Leslie missed the front end of a 1-and-bonus with 49 seconds left.
After Miami’s Durand Scott made one of two free throws to leave N.C. State with a 78-77 lead with 45 seconds left, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried called time out with 28 seconds left.
Following the break, the Wolfpack worked the clock and the ball wound up in the hands of freshman point guard Tyler Lewis, who was playing in place of injured junior Lorenzo Brown (ankle). But Lewis’ pull-up jumper with 16 seconds left and the shot clock running down fell short.
Miami’s Kenny Kadji grabbed the rebound and Larranaga called time to set up the final play. He also replaced Gamble, who had been playing defense, with Johnson for the offensive set.
Sophomore guard Shane Larkin dribbled on the perimeter and maneuvered toward the basket with the help of a Kadji screen. His bank shot rolled off, but Johnson was on the weak side to tip the ball in over N.C. State’s Richard Howell with the very hand that had been in a cast just a few weeks ago.
“N.C. State was picked to win the ACC,” said Johnson, who scored 15 points. “For us to come in here and get a win was really special.”
N.C. State’s Rodney Purvis unleashed a three-quarter court shot at the buzzer that rattled off the rim. After that, Miami’s players celebrated on the court and, led by Johnson, gathered near the mid-court line in front of some N.C. State fans.
“We did it,” Johnson later explained he said to the fans. “Appreciate y’all coming out. Now go back home now.”
The Hurricanes struggled from the outside, making only 3 of 21 shots. When N.C. State, which shot an impressive 53.8 percent, made seven of eight shots during a six-minute stretch of the second half, the Wolfpack built their 10-point lead.
But with Gamble, who scored 16 points, and Johnson in the game, Miami rallied quickly. During a 19-6 Hurricanes run, Johnson and Gamble combined for 14 of those points as Miami took a 68-62 lead with 7:07 to play.
“We’re two big guys,” said Gamble, the former Southern High School star who played in front of his mother, nephew and several friends at PNC Arena. “Every time I’m in the game with him, one of the first things I tell him is `Let’s clean up the boards. Let’s take care of the defensive boards.’ During that stretch, I think that’s what we did. We used our size to capitalize on the opportunities.”
Leslie, who led N.C. State with 18 points off the bench, brought the Wolfpack back as Miami’s offense went cold. The Hurricanes didn’t have a field goal for nearly five minutes. During that time, Leslie scored six points, including two free throws with 2:31 left to put N.C. State up 76-71.
But, while scoring only two more points the rest of the game, the Wolfpack committed two turnovers, missed a foul shot and had Lewis missed jumper.
That allowed the veteran Hurricanes, with five seniors among their playing rotation, to complete their comeback.
“You have to give Reggie Johnson credit for that,” Gottfried said. “Rodney (Purvis) played really good defense that last possession. Larkin got a tough shot up. It just sometimes comes down to the bounce of the ball in the game of basketball.”
The ball bounced Miami’s way, allowing the Hurricanes to notch victories over N.C. State, North Carolina and Duke this season.
For Johnson and Gamble, playing in their home state, that means a lot.
“Today was, like, surreal,” Gamble said. “It’s a dream come true.”
No. 14 MIAMI 79, No. 19 N.C. STATE 78
Percentages: FG .492, FT .696. 3-Point Goals: 3-21, .143 (Larkin 2-5, Kadji 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Brown 0-2, Scott 0-3, McKinney Jones 0-7). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 2 (Johnson, Gamble). Turnovers: 8 (Jekiri 2, Scott 2, Larkin, Kadji, Johnson, McKinney Jones). Steals: 10 (Larkin 5, Gamble 2, Scott 2, Johnson). Technical Fouls: Johnson.
Percentages: FG .538, FT .857. 3-Point Goals: 4-9, .444 (Wood 2-3, Purvis 2-3, Warren 0-1, T. Lewis 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 3 (Howell, Warren, Vandenberg). Turnovers: 12 (Purvis 4, Wood 2, Howell 2, Leslie 2, T. Lewis, Warren). Steals: 5 (Howell 2, Leslie, Warren, Vandenberg). Technical Fouls: None.
A—19,557. Officials—Jamie Luckie, Tim Kelly, Bernard Clinton.