The Miami Hurricanes are officially in trouble.
Yes, they are 6-5 in the ACC good for fifth with Virginia, but following back-to-back home losses to North Carolina State and North Carolina, the 'Canes have a lot of ground to make up.
Despite 21 points from Guillermo Diaz and shooting 48% from the field, North Carolina downed Miami 80-70 in front of a sold out crowd at the BankUnited Center Sunday night.
How does Miami when it shoots 48% from the field lose?
Well, North Carolina shot a blistering 55% from the field and Miami was unbelievably soft with its interior defense.
Tyler Hansbrough dominated the paint scoring 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting and also grabbed seven rebounds for the Tar Heels which improved to 15-6 overall and 6-4 in the ACC to move into sole possession of fourth place in the conference.
Reyshawn Terry added 18 points, but it was the Tar Heels three-point shooting over a four-minute stretch that turned the game in North Carolina's favor.
Up 56-55 with 12:25 to play, Terry tied the game with a free throw. Point guard Bobby Frasor drilled a three from the top of the key to give the Tar Heels a lead they would not relinquish.
Wes Miller followed with a three from the corner on a kick out from Byron Sanders. David Noel hit a lay up and swished a deep three from the wing for a nine-point lead. Marcus Ginyard capped North Carolina's 14-2 run with a lay up that gave the 'Heels a 69-58 lead with 7:06 to play that took the life out of Miami.
"Those threes hurt," UM coach Frank Haith said. "They hit them back to back to back."
But it was a combination of soft play on the interior and simply great shooting that led to the North Carolina win.
After out rebounding North Carolina in Chapel Hill in its 80-71 win and grabbing 22 offensive rebounds, the tide was turned as the 'Heels made a concerted effort to clear the glass.
North Carolina out rebounded Miami 33-22 and had 17 offensive rebounds, none more timely than when UNC's Marcus Ginyard hit a put back lay up to give North Carolina a 74-66 lead.
After losing to the Wolfpack Thursday at home in double overtime in a game the 'Canes should have won, Miami desperately needed to get a win with only three home games remaining as a 9-7 ACC record is a must to have a good chance to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
Now, there are two home games left and Miami still is stuck with six wins. At the same time, Miami must travel to Boston College, Duke and Maryland to try to steal at least one road win because 8-8 in the ACC simply won't cut it with the 'Canes not having any quality out-of-conference wins.
"It was a big time game for us to say the least," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "In the second half, I was more impressed with my team than any time I have been this year. We answered them again and again and again."
Early on though, it was Miami that answered North Carolina as the 'Heels jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the game's first 90 seconds and led 25-15 six minutes into the game.
But up 29-19, North Carolina couldn't hold Miami off as the 'Canes responded with a 19-10 run to close to within one point at the break.
"They came out on fire," Haith said. "We played real good defense in the second part of the first half."
But it wasn't enough to withstand the Tar Heels flaming shooting in the second half when they shot 58% from the field.
"I told the guys the game was going to be won on the defensive end of the floor. We had to play well. They are really a good basketball team. Those three (Guillermo Diaz, Robert Hite and Anthony Harris) on the perimeter are a big time load," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "We defended awfully hard tonight."
Miami (14-10, 6-5) - Hamilton 4, King 14, Harris 12, Diaz 21, Hite 15, Graham 2, Hicks 2.
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is the Basketball Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com
Canes Fall to UNC, 80-70
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