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Off the cuff: First an improbable ACC regular season title and now an improbable comeback victory in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Carolina outscored Miami 27-6 over the last 10 minutes of the game to come from 19 down to win by two at the buzzer.

A friend of mine attending the ACC tournament (Greg Pierce) says that Roy Coach Williams' decision to go to a three-guard lineup for part of the second half was the key that ignited the run. UNC was able to match up better with Miami's athleticism.

That well may be true because I thought, despite Barnes' 18 points and Zeller scoring UNC's final eight points of the game, that Leslie McDonald may have been the difference maker.

Not only did McDonald give Carolina 22 minutes of play, he hit three of four three-point shots and finished with 11 points. In retrospect, the second three he hit may have been the biggest bucket of the game (save for the winner deuce by Zeller at the end). The Tar Heels had just gone down by their biggest margin at 53-34 and within seconds McDonald didn't allow that to stand or increase as he fired in a three from the left wing to cut it right back down to 16.

Then came the barrage of four threes by the Tar Heels that cut it four. Later, when Carolina was down by five at 56-51 with just over four minutes to play, McDonald put in a long two from near the left baseline and 12 seconds later drew a charge. That possession resulted in a Zeller hook in the lane that cut it to 56-55 with 3:55 to play and set the table for the last-second heroics by Marshall and Zeller.

Carolina is probably going to see a lot of zone defenses from here on out and if they are going to go much further, they'll need to continue to get a few threes from McDonald and others.

Tar Heels 61, Miami 59
Tar Heels rally from 19 down to win

Talk about dodging a bullet.

A barrage of threes by Miami put North Carolina down by 19. But the Tar Heels used four threes of their own in less than two minutes to get back in it and then they won it on a Tyler Zeller lay-in with less than a second left to defeat the Hurricanes 61-59 and advance to the semi-finals of the Atlantic Coach Conference tournament in Greensboro. (3/11)

Carolina turned the ball over 20 times as Miami stole the ball 12 times. It was looking bleak after an 11-0 Miami run near the end of the first half. Up 31-22 at the half, Miami extended the lead to 16 in the first four minutes of the second half at 41-25.

Midway through the second half, Miami got the lead up to 53-34 soon after Adrian Thomas' fourth three of the half.

Still down 55-39 with 7:41 to go, the Tar Heels went on a game-changing run. Leslie McDonald started the run with a long three. Then 30 seconds later Marshall drilled a three and followed it 36 seconds later for another three to draw the Heels to 55-48.

Harrison Barnes, who led the Tar Heels with 18 points, completed the wild 12-0 run with a three of his own with just over five minutes left.

A Zeller hook in the lane drew the Heels to within one at 56-55 with 3:55. A deliberate Miami kept the lead until Zeller hit a hook swish with 47 seconds left to tie it at 59-all.

After a Miami timeout, the Hurricanes passed it around outside before throwing it away with 18 seconds left.

Carolina called timeout for a last-second shot. After a pair of non-shooting fouls by Miami, the Heels had less than six seconds to get up a shot. Marshall drove right across the key and dished underneath to an open Zeller who lifted it in with his left hand with less than a second left on the clock for the victory.

The Tar Heels, 25-6, advance to play the winner of the Boston College-Clemson game Saturday afternoon.




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