GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jordan Miller had 18 points and nine rebounds for No. 14 Miami, which held off Wake Forest’s furious comeback for a 74-72 victory in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Thursday.
ACC player of the year Isaiah Wong jhad 17 points and five assists and Norchad Omier had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Miami — the top seed for the first time since 2013 when the Hurricanes won the ACC title game.
Tyree Appleby had 24 points behind five 3s for ninth-seeded Wake Forest (19-17), which fell just short in rallying from an 18-point second half deficit. Cameron Hildreth added 17 points.
Daivien Williamson, whose buzzer-beater beat Syracuse and effectively ended coach Jim Boeheim’s 47-year coaching career on Wednesday, missed a half-court heave at the buzzer that would have won the game.
The Hurricanes (25-6) move on to Friday’s semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of No. 21 Duke vs. Pittsburgh game that was slated for Thursday afternoon.
The Hurricanes broke open a five-point game at halftime behind Wong and Miller.
Miller buried a 3-pointer from the left wing off a Wong feed, and Wong followed with a turnaround jumper from the foul line to push the lead to 13. A few moments later, Wong increased the lead to 17 when he knocked down a step-back 3 from the top of the key after Wake Forest big man Andrew Carr got caught in a defensive switch.
But Wake Forest refused to quit, clawing back to within six with 3:17 remaining behind a 11-2 run highlighted by 3-pointers from Williamson, Bobi Klintman and Appleby.
Wake Forest then trimmed the lead to 74-72 with 3.3 seconds left on a Hildreth 3 from the wing.
Wooga Poplar was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Williamson’s heave from half court at the buzzer hit the backboard and bounced away allowing Miami to escape with the win.
Miami led 34-29 at halftime, scoring 13 points off Wake Forest turnovers.
The Demon Deacons had a chance to cut the lead to two at the break, but Cameron Hildreth didn’t get another half-court shot off in time at the buzzer.
Wake Forest: Came into the tournament having lost four of their five final regular-season games and couldn’t put together the run they needed in Greensboro despite a great comeback. The Demon Deacons have good size, but their big men need to do a better job of commanding the ball in the low post and show they have the ability to score close to the basket. Instead, bigs like Matthew Marsh are mostly relegated to being used as screeners in half-court sets.
Miami: The Hurricanes can beat a team in so many ways and proved that against Wake Forest. Wong was surgical in setting up teammates for quality shots when he wasn’t scoring nearly at will. Miami has to do a better job of making clutch free throws down the stretch to close out games.
Wake Forest: Await a likely NIT bid.
Miami: Will play Friday in the ACC semifinals.
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