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March 12, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - A day after the defending national champions were bounced in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, the last-place team continued an improbable run to the semifinals.
In this hard-to-predict season, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Miami was chest-bumping at midcourt on Friday afternoon.
With freshman Durand Scott unstoppable in the final minutes while the ACC's top scorer couldn't hit anything, Miami knocked off Virginia Tech 70-65, marking the fourth time in the first six games the higher seed lost.
The Hurricanes (20-12), who had dropped 11 of 14 games before arriving here, joined the 2006 Wake Forest team as the only 12th-seed to reach the semifinals. They'll face top-seed and No. 4 Duke on Saturday.
"We came here, we regrouped and told each other, 'The season's over with, come here and start over and just have fun,'" said Reggie Johnson, whose 12 rebounds led Miami's dominance on the glass. "And we're having fun right now."
Scott scored 11 of his 17 points in the final 6 minutes and DeQuan Jones added 14 points for the Hurricanes, who beat fifth-seed Wake Forest a day earlier. The Hurricanes had never won two games in their previous five ACC tournaments.
"For us to play in the NCAA tournament, we've got to win the tournament," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "We're driven by that. If that gives us an extra incentive to do the little things we've talked about all year, I don't know. If it is, then let's keep doing it."
Fourth-seed Virginia Tech (23-8) got 18 points from Jeff Allen, but couldn't overcome a miserable performance by ACC top scorer Malcolm Delaney. He was held to seven points on 3 of 15 shooting, including 0 of 8 from 3-point range.
Delaney missed two shots on the same possession with under a minute left and Virginia Tech trailing by one.
Scott then hit two free throws at the other end, and Terrell Bell missed a tying 3-point attempt to end the Hokies' hopes, leaving them on the sidelines along with last season's NCAA champion, North Carolina.
Virginia Tech, which appeared certain of an NCAA tournament berth coming, may be a little nervous Sunday night now, too.
"If this game knocks us out of the NCAA tournament, that'll be crazy," Delaney said.
Added coach Seth Greenberg: "We'll just sit and wait and hope. I'd hope that the team that tied for third place in the ACC would be in pretty good shape."
Outrebounded 46-29, Virginia Tech also couldn't hit outside shots over Miami's zone. The Hokies shot 38 percent, including 6 of 24 from 3-point range, in blowing an early 10-point lead.
The Hurricanes took their first lead since early in the game on Scott's coast-to-coast layup with 5:53 left.
It was the beginning of Scott's late surge. The speedy guard added a three-point play, a driving layup and two free throws to put Miami ahead 66-65 with 1:53 left.
"At the end of the game that guy attacked us," Greenberg said. "If we were a zone team we maybe could've zoned it up and least force them to kick it out."
Allen, one of the few players able to find seams in Miami's zone, added 11 rebounds for the Hokies. Dorenzo Hudson scored 16, while Bell 12 and J.T. Thompson 10 as Virginia Tech's two-game winning streak was snapped.
Hudson, who missed Virginia Tech's final regular season game against Georgia Tech with a sore foot, showed no ill effects early. He hit two 3-pointers and hit a floater in a personal 8-0 run as Virginia Tech built a double-digit lead before Miami got help from some unlikely sources.
Jones, considered Haith's highest-rated recruit, had failed to become a major contributor in his first two seasons. He reached double figures just once this season and entered the postseason averaging five points.
But Jones sliced his way to 14 points on Thursday against Wake Forest, and had several nifty first-half drives against Virginia Tech in scoring 11 points as the Hurricanes trailed only 37-35.
Then it was Scott, who was plagued by a slump in the middle of the season, who came up big in the second half. He reached double figures for the seventh time in eight games.
"The coach came to me and said, did I hit a wall? and I said no," Scott said. "And he said, 'Then why are you stopping now? Keep going.' I said, 'OK, I'm not going to stop.'
"That's when it all began. I just kept focusing and doing what the coach told me to do and it turned out well."