GREENSBORO — Richard Howell thought he knew what it meant to play with pain.
That is until Friday when Howell had to briefly leave N.C. State’s win against Virginia with a thigh bruise to his right leg.
Twice, Virginia forward Akil Mitchell accidentally kneed Howell in the second half.
“It was a simple injury, he kneed me twice, but it felt like I got hit with a baseball bat,” Howell said. “I’ve never played with something so painful in my life.”
Howell, who finished with 12 rebounds and labored through 30 minutes, went to the locker room at the 13:05 mark in the second half.
He returned less than 2 minutes later, after briefly riding a stationary bike behind the N.C. State bench. Howell’s rebound of a Lorenzo Brown miss at the 8-minute mark fired up the Wolfpack crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum, and led to a 3-point play by C.J. Leslie.
Later in the second half, coming out of a timeout, referee Mike Eades stopped to ask Howell if he was OK.
Howell said he was in pain, but Eades replied, “They still can’t stop you on the glass.”
Howell’s health will be a question mark for Saturday’s semifinal against Miami’s huge frontcourt of Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble and Kenny Kadji.
“It’s definitely going to be a physical battle but we feel like if we can get out and run, we’ll be all right,” Howell said.
Howell has started every game this season and 70 straight games.
• No encore for Hanlan: Boston College freshman Olivier Hanlan torched Georgia Tech for 41 points on Thursday but found the sledding tougher on Friday against Miami.
Hanlan was locked down by Miami guards Durand Scott, the ACC defensive player of the year, and Shane Larkin. He finished with 14 points and two 3-pointers. Scott also harassed Hanlan into four turnovers.
Even though it was Boston College and Miami, the back-and-forth between Hanlan and Larkin had an old-school ACC tournament feel. Perhaps feeling snubbed in the ACC player of the year voting, Larkin had 20 points and four assists in the Hurricanes’ 69-58 win.
• So close: Former North Carolina star J.R. Reid, who’s working for the ACC Digital Network, stopped to say hello to former Wake Forest coach Dave Odom in a back hallway at the Coliseum. The two spoke briefly, and as Reid moved on, Odom shook his head.
“I must have gone to his house 300 times,” Odom said, wistfully.
Odom was an assistant at Virginia when Reid starred in high school at Virginia Beach.
All’s Wells that ends Wells: Dez Wells had played well entering the ACC tournament. But not this well.
Wells, a Raleigh native and sophomore guard at Maryland, scored 26 points on Friday night to lead the seventh-seeded Terrapins to a surprising 83-74 victory against second-seeded Duke.
The 26 points represented a career high for Wells, but not that far off from what he had been doing recently. Wells scored 21 points during Maryland’s 75-62 victory against Wake Forest on Thursday in the first round of the tournament.
He had 23 points in another victory against Wake on March 2. Wells has now scored in double figures in six consecutive games – his longest such stretch of the season. Against Duke, he made 9 of 13 attempts from the field and all 10 of his free-throw attempts.
Luke DeCock and Andrew Carter contributed.