for this game

Better late than never: Heels get last-second win over Miami

Mar 12, 2011 - 5:41 AM Greensboro, NC (Sports Network) - Tyler Zeller's layup as time expired gave North Carolina its only lead of the game, as the sixth-ranked Tar Heels pulled out a 61-59 victory over Miami-Florida in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

The Tar Heels roared back from a 19-point deficit midway through the second half and tied the game at 59-59 with 45.3 seconds left on a Zeller hook from the lane.

Miami then turned it over with 18.6 seconds remaining and the Hurricanes had two fouls to give, setting up North Carolina's final chance with five seconds to play. Kendall Marshall drove the right side of the lane and drew two Miami defenders, leaving Zeller wide open at the left side of the basket. Marshall neatly slipped a pass to Zeller and the ball left the big man's hand with just 2/10ths of a second remaining, falling through as the buzzer sounded.

"We just wanted to get something going to the basket," said Marshall about the last play. "Z's man came over and helped and I found him underneath the basket. I took a quick look over at the clock as I was going toward the basket and saw I had enough time to give it off to him. Thankfully he made the layup."

Zeller finished with 13 points and nine rebounds for the top-seeded Tar Heels (25-6), who have won eight in a row and will take on Clemson in Saturday's semifinals. Harrison Barnes added 18 points in the victory and Marshall contributed 10 assists with six points.

"We were as lucky as we could possibly be," said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. "Those kinds of things happen at tournament time."

Malcolm Grant scored 16 points for Miami (19-14), which was on the opposite end of a rally in the first round against Virginia. The Hurricanes came back from 11 points down with just over two minutes to play on Thursday and beat the Cavaliers in overtime to advance.

The Hurricanes never trailed during the first half of this one and carried a 31-22 edge to the locker room, then built a 19-point cushion when Reggie Johnson's layup made it 53-34 with just under 10 minutes remaining.

North Carolina stormed back with a barrage of three-pointers.

Leslie McDonald hit the first two from beyond the arc, sandwiched around a John Henson dunk, and Marshall also stroked a pair of threes before Barnes canned a triple with 5:13 left to pull the Tar Heels within 55-51. After a free throw by Grant, McDonald drilled long jumper and a bucket by Zeller made it a 56-55 game with 3:54 remaining. It remained tight from there.

"We needed to keep scoring, and we didn't keep scoring," said Miami head coach Frank Haith. "They got transition buckets against our zone and some transition threes where they beat us down the court. They threw some deep threes in."

McDonald finished with 11 points. He made 3-of-4 from three-point range and Barnes connected on 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. The Tar Heels hit 7-of-12 threes in the second half and shot 55.6 percent overall in the final 20 minutes.

Miami opened the game with a 7-2 run before North Carolina came back and quickly tied it with the next five points, but the Hurricanes went back in front and built a 20-13 edge with 6 1/2 minutes to play in the first half.

The Tar Heels again rallied and a three-pointer by Justin Watts tied the game at 20-20, but the Hurricanes were undaunted and scored 11 straight. Grant hit consecutive three-pointers to cap the surge, giving Miami a 31-20 edge, and Henson's tip-in with 25 seconds remaining sent North Carolina to the locker room down nine.

Miami connected on 5-of-14 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes and converted 14 Carolina turnovers into 19 points. The Tar Heels shot a miserable 30.4 percent in the first half.

"We were as bad as we could possibly be for the first 35 minutes," Williams added. "They had 19 points, I think, first half on our turnovers. Second half we stopped turning the ball over and getting shots."

Game Notes

Johnson, Durand Scott and Adrian Thomas each scored 12 points for Miami, which shot 36.7 percent overall and finished 9-of-26 from beyond the arc...Henson totaled 10 points with 13 rebounds and five blocks...North Carolina improved to 16-2 all-time against Miami with eight straight wins. The Tar Heels also had a tough time beating the Hurricanes during the regular season, taking a 74-71 decision in Miami on January 26 thanks to a Barnes three-pointer with six seconds to play.