GREENSBORO — The super-sized ACC tournament might have a new look and longer schedule, but one holdover truism remains. It’s still hard to beat a team three times in one season.
Behind 15 points from Rion Brown and 14 apiece from Erik Swoope and Davon Reed, 10th-seeded Miami avenged two regular-season losses to last-place Virginia Tech, holding off the Hokies 57-53 in the first round at Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes, the reigning tournament champions, will play seventh-seeded N.C. State at 7 p.m. Thursday. Miami beat the Wolfpack in Raleigh 85-70 on March 1 to split the season series.
Swoope preserved the second-round date when with 5.7 seconds remaining he blocked a shot under the basket by Jarell Eddie, who had grabbed an offensive rebound of a deliberately missed free throw by Devin Wilson with the Hokies (9-22) trailing 55-53.
Swoope, a 6-foot-5 senior, had given the Hurricanes (17-15) the lead for good at 53-52 when he scored in the low post on a feed from center Tanye Jekiri with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left. Earlier his slashing drives to the basket and explosive dunks helped energize Miami, which trailed by nine points in the first half.
Miami coach Jim Larranaga praised Swoope’s attitude and work ethic.
“For the last month he’s been the difference for us,” Larranaga said. “He gives us a great defensive presence, rebounds the ball well, and he’s taking the ball to the rim at an extremely high level. … Now we have another driver, and by driving to the basket he creates another set of circumstances for the defense to handle.”
Said Swoope, “One of the main things I understand is trusting what I’m good at. … Going into the last games of the season my teammates have been pushing me to understand what’s good for the team. The dunks shifted the momentum in our favor, and we finished the (first) half strong. I understand I have to push myself. I can’t have lackadaisical moments.”
Swoope followed up his game-saving block of Eddie, who led Virginia Tech with 16 points, with two free throws.
“At the very end of the game I was actually frustrated with myself because we knew they were going to miss that shot, and the rebound tipped right out of my hands,” Swoope said.
Virginia Tech lost for the seventh straight game and 17th in its past 18. The Hokies had four possessions to take the lead in the final minutes trailing by one point, but came up empty, including two missed attempts at the line with 9.5 seconds remaining by Joey van Zegeren, a 36 percent free throw shooter.
“I thought he was going to knock them down,” Hokies coach James Johnson said. “At the Pittsburgh game he knocked down two big free throws late in the stretch, and that basically was going through my mind.
“Him getting in early foul trouble was a huge impact for us defensively and on the offensive end. … And him just sitting on the sideline being on the bench for so long hurt us on both ends.”
After shooting 54 percent in the first half, the Hokies managed 26 percent after intermission. Miami shot 38 percent but had a big edge at the free throw line, making 16 of 19. The Hokies were 9 of 17. Reed came off the bench to go 4-of-7 on 3-pointers and bail out the Hurricanes in the early going.
“I thought we had some really good looks in the second half,” Johnson said. “I thought maybe fatigue set in, legs were a little bit tired in the second half.”
Eddie, a 6-7 senior, was a case in point. He was 3-of-4 on 3-pointers in the first half but 2-of-6 thereafter.
Larranaga turned his attention to the Wolfpack, but he wanted to make it clear first that he was not the coach who left T.J. Warren, the league’s leading scorer, off his first-team All-ACC ballot.
“Be sure to write I had him on first team,” Larranaga said. “I don’t want to give them any ammunition and bulletin board material. T.J. Warren deserves all the recognition. He’s a great offensive player. He’s an NBA first-round pick whenever he chooses to go. And he’ll be a handful for us tomorrow.”
Georgia Tech 73, Boston College 70 (OT): Robert Carter Jr. led Georgia Tech with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 18.
The Yellow Jackets led 61-49 with 5 minutes left only to see Boston College (8-24) run off 11 straight points. Patrick Heckmann did most of the damage, scoring all 11 of the Eagles’ points over a 4:13 span en route to a team-high 21.
After Heckmann and Carter each made one of two free throws in the final minute of regulation to put Georgia Tech up 62-61, Olivier Hanlan, who had 16 points, had a chance to win it for the Eagles. However, he converted only one of two free throws with 5.2 seconds left.
In overtime, Trae Golden drove for a layup – Georgia Tech’s only field goal in almost 10 minutes – and added the free throw for a three-point play that gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good, 69-67, with 35.3 seconds to go. Kammeon Holsey followed with four free throws in the final 14.7 seconds to put it away.