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Off the cuff: Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is taking heat for the final play he drew up. The shot by Logan Aronhalt was indeed a horrible one but the play actually was a good idea.

Aronhalt hits an extremely high 44 percent of his three pointers. It seemed like the shot was a quick one as the Terps had 10 seconds to play with but Aronhalt took the shot immediately. That was actually the right call because UNC coach Roy Williams instructed his players to foul once it got to five seconds.

If the player wasn't in the motion to shoot, he would only have received two foul shots. Behind by three, that would do the Terps no good. Even if Carolina had fouled in the act of shooting the player would have the pressure of hitting three straight foul shots.

I'm sure that would have been preferable to what happened. And what happened was that Aronhalt, perhaps due to Carolina overplaying in the three-point zone, took a wider angle to get to the ball and had to shoot from further out than Turgeon wanted. Plus, Aronhalt, rushing to get it up as instructed, didn't square himself to the basket.

In retrospect, I'm sure Aronhalt wished he had taken a tad more time and made a move closer to the basket. Of course, he may have been fouled before getting the shot up and Carolina would have won anyway.

Plus, had either Marcus Paige or PJ Hairston, both good foul shooters, hit both of their free throws in the last 32 seconds, instead of 1 of 2, the game would have been out of reach.

Tar Heels 79, Maryland 76
Heels earn the right to play for ACC title

Leading most of the way, North Carolina held on at the end against a charging Maryland team to earn its way into the ACC Tournament Finals with a 79-76 win. (3/16)

The Tar Heels worked a five-point halftime lead into a 13-point cushion with 11:28 to play. During the stretch, James Michael McAdoo converted a three-point play on a drive to the hoop and Reggie Bullock lofted an alley-oop assist to Brice Johnson.

But the Terrapins got a couple of three-point shots and numerous second-chance points, mostly from Alex Len, to get back in the game.

With under nine minutes to go, Maryland trailed by just three at 60-57. A Leslie McDonald three, followed by a Bullock three helped the Tar Heels stretch the lead back up to 10 at 68-58 with 7:40 to go.

A 7-0 Maryland run cut Carolina's lead to just 71-70 with three minutes left.

UNC's Marcus Paige, who was saddled with foul trouble more than in any game this season, hit a pair of big shots to keep the Terps at bay. First, he hit a baseline jumper to put the Heels up 73-70 and, perhaps more importantly, he tossed in a short runner from the baseline with 37 seconds left to make it a two-possession game at 77-72.

Still, after the Heels missed two of four free throws, the Terps had a chance to send the game into overtime but with just under 10 seconds left Logan Aronhalt missed everything on a long three attempt and the Heels ran out the clock.

With Paige in foul trouble, the Heels turned to Dexter Strickland to quarterback the team. He hit a number of long two pointers as he scored 15 points and he dished out four assists.

McAdoo, who also was in foul trouble, scored 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Bullock, who hit three threes, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds while PJ Hairston, playing with stitches from a hand injury suffered Friday, managed to get 13 points although he hit only three of 10 from the field.

Carolina, which now plays Miami for the ACC championship Sunday at 1 pm, now stands at 24-9 while Maryland falls to 22-12 and has to wait to see if they get an invite to the NCAA Tournament.


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