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Virginia tops Miami, faces North Carolina in ACC final

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The Virginia Cavaliers jumped on the Miami Hurricanes, then held them at bay for the rest of the game to earn a 73-68 victory Saturday night in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in Washington, DC. Virginia made scoring difficult for the Hurricanes, as they do for every opponent.

Miami actually shot the ball reasonably well, connecting on 56 percent of their shots, but Virginia forced them into 16 turnovers. Their pressure on the ball allowed resulted in the Hurricanes recording only seven assists.

Virginia opened the game with two three-pointers by Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes. They increased the lead to 10 with under nine minutes left in the first half and carried a 36-31 lead into the halftime locker room.

Miami made a run in the second half, trimming the lead to 42-39 with 13:58 remaining on a three-pointer by Angel Rodriguez. The Hurricanes kept hanging around until Virginia finally began to pull away. The Hurricanes closed to 71-68 late in the game, but the Cavaliers held them off.

Brogdon, the all-American, led the Cavaliers in scoring, as he regularly does, with 24 points. Perrantes added 11.

“They are a good defensive team,” said Brogdon of the Hurricanes. “You’ve got to grind them out to get your shots.” He grinds pretty well.

Ja’Quan Newton paced the Hurricanes with 19 points. Sheldon McClellan chipped in 15.

Miami fell to 25-7 while the Cavaliers improved to 26-6 and are playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers will face North Carolina for the ACC Championship. The Tar Heels destroyed Notre Dame 78-47 in the first semifinal Saturday.

North Carolina held Notre Dame to 30 percent shooting and out rebounded them 49-31. Five Tar Heels scored in double figures led by Marcus Paige with 16.

The final matches the efficient offense of North Carolina and the suffocating defense of Virginia. The Cavaliers beat the Tar Heels, 79-74 in Charlottesville, Virginia in the only meeting between the two teams February 27.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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