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Heels beat buzzer, escape

From left, Tyler Zeller and Miami’s Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson watch Zeller’s buzzer-beating shot that gives North Carolina a 61-59 victory. The Tar Heels rally after trailing by 19.

Associated Press

From left, Tyler Zeller and Miami’s Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson watch Zeller’s buzzer-beating shot that gives North Carolina a 61-59 victory. The Tar Heels rally after trailing by 19.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tyler Zeller had just enough time to catch Kendall Marshall's pass under the basket and put up a shot before the horn sounded.

The layup gave No. 6 North Carolina a 61-59 win over Miami and saved it from a shocking exit from the ACC tournament in Friday's quarterfinals.

North Carolina played nothing like the team that lost just twice since Dec. 18. It threw away passes against Miami's zone (20 total turnovers), couldn't establish its big men (14 points in the paint), couldn't get out in transition (17 fastbreak points) and trailed by 19 in the second half.

It was North Carolina's biggest rally since being down 20 in the first half against Georgia Tech in 2006 and biggest second-half rally since being down 21 against Florida State in 1993.

"We just keep fighting and fighting," said sophomore John Henson, a graduate of Tampa's Sickles High who had 10 points and 13 rebounds.

After Zeller tied it with a hook shot with 45.3 seconds left, Miami threw a pass out of bounds. Marshall then penetrated, drew Reggie Johnson away from Zeller and passed it.

"People have made fun of me for not dunking, but it paid off on that possession," the 7-foot Zeller said.

"I just caught it, and I had to shoot it as fast as possible."

A day earlier, Miami staged its own comeback, rallying from 10 down in the final minute to force overtime and beat Virginia. Friday, it shot 32 percent (10-of-31) after taking a 31-22 halftime lead.

"We missed some wide-open shots, and we took some ill-advised shots," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "We just weren't taking good shots. We missed some bunnies around the hoop. You've got to make those plays."

Injury mars Duke win

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Kyle Singler scored 29, and after conference player of the year Nolan Smith got hurt, No. 5 Duke pulled away to beat Maryland 87-71. The Terps went without a field goal for six minutes late.

Smith hurt the second toe on his left foot with 6:48 left when he planted in the lane and fell. Results of X-rays were not available. Coach Mike Krzyzewski called the guard questionable for today but expressed hope for the NCAA Tournament.

The injury evoked memories of the injured toe that has kept star freshman guard Kyrie Irving out for the past three months. Coincidentally, Irving took part in conditioning drills before tipoff. But Krzyzewski reiterated he doesn't expect him back this season.

Clemson 70, BC 47: Demontez Stitt scored 20 for the Tigers in a matchup of tournament bubble teams. It was Clemson's first ACC tournament win since 2008 and fifth since 1998. "I've heard 'elimination game' for our team the last two games, if not more than that," said Tigers coach Brad Brownell, whose team beat another bubble team, Virginia Tech, in the regular-season finale. Stitt also held Eagles' All-ACC guard Reggie Jackson to 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting.

Heels beat buzzer, escape 03/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 12:37am]
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