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Off the cuff: Carolina probably didn't deserve to win this game on Senior Night but they probably should have won it.

Missed free throws, a couple of foul calls that could have gone either way and a controversial "in the cylinder" call that took away two points for the Heels, along with an improbable near halfcourt shot, did in the the Tar Heels.

Losing on Senior Night is, of course, always hard but this was an important game in the standings - one that could have wrapped up a double bye in the ACC Tournament next week.

And it was the final time that Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, two important cogs in the Tar Heels' consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship game, would play on the home court.

"I'm the luckiest coach in America because I've coached Joel and Theo," UNC coach Roy Williams said after the game.

He said that in light of the academic scandal that kept some recruits away from Carolina, the class of Berry, Pinson and Justin Jackson, who left for the pros after last season, was probably the most significant recruiting class at Carolina over the last 50 years.

The loss on Senior Night was an emotional one for Coach Williams. After the game when someone yelled something about beating Duke, Williams said he didn't care about that right now. "We want to beat every frickin' body we play," he said. "You don't think I want to beat their ass?"

Carolina ended the home schedule with an unusual three losses at the Smith Center.

Miami 91, Tar Heels 88
Miami daggers Heels at buzzer on Sr. Night

North Carolina came from 16 down to tie the game on a Joel Berry long swished three with four seconds left but Miami stuck a dagger with a 40-foot desperation shot at the buzzer to defeat the Heels 91-88 on Senior Night. (2/27)

Da'Quan Newton scored Miami's last nine points of the game including the last-second three-pointer that was just a lunge over mid-court.

The loss stopped a six-game win streak for the Tar Heels and kept the home team from securing a double-bye in the ACC Tournament.

The Tar Heels led by as many as eight points in the first half but Miami went on an 18-3 run to take a 28-21 lead.

By the first four minutes of the second half, after a rash of Carolina turnovers, Miami had upped the margin to 16 at 59-43.

The Tar Heels, behind three pointers from Cam Johnson and Luke Maye, got back in it quickly with eight points in just over a minute of play.

Carolina cut it to five on a three by senior Theo Pinson midway through the second half but Miami worked the lead back up to 11 with less than six minutes to go and things looked dim for the Heels.

Berry, the ACC's top free throw shooter, uncharacteristically missed three free throws but came through from three-point land late. Over the next three minutes, Berry hit three threes to draw the Miami lead to two with 2:30 to go.

Maye had a chance to tie it from the line but he only hit one of two. Miami kept the lead with six straight free throws of its own before Berry managed to tie the score with the long, contested three that made it 88-all, setting up Newton's heroics.

"I really thought we were going to win the game," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "The clock ran out on us."

While it's always tough to lose on Senior Night, to lose like that and to put the double-bye in the tournament in doubt, makes this an especially big loss. It makes the game at Duke Saturday night especially big as a loss would probably force the Heels to play early in the ACC Tournament.

Coach Williams said that the Tar Heels had their opportunities but missed layups and free throws hurt them. Berry, who had missed only 10 free throws all year, missed three and Johnson, who missed only four free throws all year, missed two. The Tar Heels missed seven of their 20 free throws.

On the other hand, Miami hit 12 of 13 free throws. Newton, who was one of six Miami players in double figures, came into the game as only a 60 percent free throw shooter but he hit all four of his free throws. He also came into the game hitting only 17 percent of his three pointers and had only hit four all year but he hit perhaps Miami's biggest three of the year.

"It's one thing I've always dreamed about," Newton said. "To do it out there against North Carolina is something I'll always remember."

So will Carolina seniors Joel Berry, Luke Pinson, Aaron Rohlman and Kane Ma. The latter two, both former JV players, started for the first time. Coach Williams said it was especially disappointing losing on Senior Night. "Senior Night is important to me," Coach Williams said. "It's one of the most important things we do."

Pinson, who had a career-high 11 assists, was especially emotional during a speech before the fans after the game. "This one was tough," he said. "I wanted this one really bad."

Berry, who led the Heels with 31 points, including 19 over the last 6:45 of the game, was a bit more upbeat after getting engaged over the weekend. "Don't count us out," he said.

The Tar Heels, now 22-8 overall and 11-6 in the ACC, travel to rival Duke Saturday night before heading into the post-season.

Box Score

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