Canes Fall to Duke in ACC Tournament, 80-76

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Hurricanes bowed out of the ACC Tournament on Friday, but not without putting a scare into #1 seed Duke, losing 80-76.

View Box Score

In a game that saw 22 lead changes, the game was still up for grabs until the final seconds. It was in those final seconds that saw stars from both teams making huge shots, but also saw a controversial call have a tremendous effect on the result.

With 2:04 remaining, Guillermo Diaz (16 points) hit a layup to tie the game at 72. Shelden Williams (14 points, 13 rebounds) was then fouled by Raymond Hicks (12 points, 6 rebounds) while shooting on the other end, and converted both free throws. Hicks then had his chance to return the favor, but only made one of two free throws to cut the lead to 74-73.

J.J. Redick (25 points) then hit a high-arching jumper from above the free throw line to put the Devils up by three with 34 seconds remaining. Coach Frank Haith called a timeout to set up a play that was designed to get a driving shot off a screen. However, the play was sidetracked by the aggressive defense by Duke. Robert Hite (15 points, 8 rebounds) forced a long three that was off the mark and rebounded by Lee Melchionni, who was quickly fouled. Melchionni, a senior and former walk-on, then stepped to the line and buried both free throws; resulting in his only points of the afternoon.

Showing the heart and athleticism that has endeared him to Hurricanes fans over his three years in Coral Gables, Diaz did not pack it in. Down five points with 14 seconds remaining in the game, Diaz raced up the court and hit a guarded three from just in front of the Miami bench, off a pass from freshman Denis Clemente (5 points, 4 assists).

The Canes were now back within striking distance with 8 seconds remaining. Coach Haith then decided to call a timeout and was signaling to the officials and his players. During this timeout, Haith was planning on telling his team to deny Redick, an excellent free throw shooter, the ball and foul anyone else with a white jersey on. However, the timeout was not recognized, leaving the second-year head coach perplexed.

"I don't know…I don't know…I don't know," said Haith.

To make matters worse, the referee on the far sideline then called an off the ball foul on Hite before the ball was put in play. In reality, it was called before the Blue Devils had initiated their inbounds play from the baseline. As luck would have it, this controversial call was for holding on Redick and his nearly 90% free throw average. A chorus of boos rained down on the officials from the capacity crowd in Greensboro, NC.

Redick then stepped to the line and made both free throws, leaving the Canes only six seconds to make up a four point loss. Miami was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded.

Despite the loss, another Hurricane played very well. North Carolina native Anthony King had a huge game for "The U", putting up 16 points and pulling down 11 big rebounds. A very impressive outing against Shelden Williams, one of the best big men in the country.

The Hurricanes will now await Sunday night's NIT pairings. Next up for Duke, the Demon Deacons in the semifinals of the tournament, who advanced over the Wolfpack of NC State in the quarterfinals.

Canes Time Top Stories