NC State-Miami Preview
Miami has never advanced to the ACC tournament championship while North Carolina State last reached one six years ago and hasn't won this event since 1987.
One of these teams will get a shot at the title, and the Wolfpack will have Lorenzo Brown on Saturday as they try to avenge a regular-season loss to the No. 9 Hurricanes.
Miami (25-6) has reached the ACC semifinals for the second time in nine appearances, but it wasn't easy as the top-seeded Hurricanes needed a big second half from Shane Larkin to hold off Boston College 69-58 on Friday.
Larkin scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime as the Hurricanes shot 69.6 percent over the final 20 minutes.
"He's so good at what he does," coach Jim Larranaga said. "A lot of times you'll see (Larkin) in the first half try to get the ball to (his teammates), and then the second half starts, he starts to pick his spots to attack and score or find the open man. We absolutely needed that."
Miami's point guard will get his first look at Brown this season. The Wolfpack floor general was out with a sprained ankle when the Hurricanes won 79-78 on Feb. 2 on Reggie Johnson's tip-in with 0.8 seconds left.
"We played them once at home and they beat us so first of all, we remember that," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "They have proven that from start to finish that they are the best in the league."
N.C. State (24-9) was up by 10 midway through the first half last month. C.J. Leslie, who did not start that contest for disciplinary reasons, led the Wolfpack with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
"That was a tough game for us," Leslie said. "We felt like we had that game under control, and it just slipped away at the end."
Brown, who led the ACC in the regular season with 7.0 assists per game, has 18 in two games in this tournament.
"He just affects the game in so many ways," Gottfried said. "And obviously we're a different team when he's healthy."
N.C. State has been dominant this week, winning 80-63 over Virginia Tech on Wednesday and 75-56 over Virginia on Thursday. Leslie has totaled 32 points and 18 rebounds.
Scott Wood matched a career high with seven 3-pointers against the Cavaliers, also tying a season high with 23 points.
Some tremendous defense figures to be on display with the top three players in steals during the ACC regular season involved. Brown and Larkin each averaged 2.0 while Miami's Durand Scott had 1.6 per game.
Larkin and Scott combined for five steals Friday.
"Right now I know one thing I can definitely do 100 percent of, and that's play defense, and that's what I'm going to put my heart on the line for and help my teammates as much as I can in the defensive end," said Scott, who has been quiet offensively with 15 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the tournament.
Scott scored a team-high 18 points and Larkin added 13 and five steals in the first meeting.