Miami 81, NC State 71 - If you thought Duke had a bad start against Maryland, check out State's entree into the semifinal against the Canes: 10minutes, 5 points on 2-7 from the floor, 1-4 from the line, 4 turnovers. And yet, somehow, Miami only led 12-5. Sadly for the Pack, the next time the game was that close it was 50-44 with 11 minutes to go. At that point, Durand Scott did what he had been doing all game, and single-handedly killed NC State's hopes of a birth in the final with a dagger three. The game was never close again. Scott scored 14 of the Canes first 19 points, on his way to finishing with a career high 32 (12-18 FG, 5-8 3 pt.), as the Miami backcourt just annihilated State. Scott and Larkin finished with a combined 55 of Miami's 81 points. In spite of the slow start and the unstoppable Miami guards (and how lopsided it felt), the difference in the game, at least statistically, was found at the FT line where Miami shot 23-30 to State's woeful 14-25. Scott Wood scored 21 on 6-10 from 3 to keep things relatively close, making 13-22 from beyond the arc in his two tournament games. Richard Howell was clearly hampered by his injured thigh and fought hard, but for the second game in a row was unable to play up to his Howellian standards, particularly on the offensive end ( he scored 6 and 8 points in the Pack's two games). CJ Leslie continued to endear himself to State fans by finishing with more Turnovers ( 3) than rebounds ( 2) and 14 points on 5-13 shooting. The Wolfpack's year of fantastic disappointment continues. Their chances to redeem themselves are dwindling.
UNC 79, Maryland 76 - Maryland got good performances from its two most mercurial guys, Alex Len (20 and 7) and Nick Faust (17 points, 5-9 from 3) and only turned the ball over 10 times... so wait, how did they still lose? Carolina played really well on offense for the first 30 minutes of this game before withering slightly late, and even then they managed to get some really key buckets from Marcus Paige (two huuuuge shots in the waning moments, including a nice floater over Len) and Reggie Bullock made some nice defensive plays as Carolina did just enough to win. PJ Hairston played hurt and looked like his shot was a bit off, finishing just 3-10 from the field. Maryland hurt the Heels most when UNC was forced to put some odd lineups on the floor with James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige in foul trouble. (Memo to both of those guys: don't do that again.) Carolina also had some chances to ice this game but missed enough crucial free-throws to leave the door open... only to watch it swing closed in most hilarious fashion, as the play Mark Turgeon somehow drew up with 10 seconds left down by three was a turnaround Logan Aaronholt 3 that hit nothing but air. One thing that greatly helped UNC was limiting their own turnovers (only 7 on the day), something they'll have to do just as well against Miami if they have any hope of winning.