WASHINGTON (AP) -- J.R. Reynolds scored a career-high 32 points
and made sure coach Pete Gillen's coaching tenure at Virginia would
last at least one more game, leading the Cavaliers to a 66-65
victory over Miami on Thursday night in the first round of the
Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Reynolds made 10 of 14 shots, including 5 of 7 3-pointers, and
got virtually no support from his teammates until a 9-4
game-closing run that broke a five-game losing streak and put
Virginia (14-14), seeded last in the tournament, into Friday's
quarterfinals against third-seeded Duke.
Devin Smith, who was 1-for-9 at the time, hit a 3-pointer with
2:26 to play to give Virginia its first lead of the second half,
62-61. Freshman Sean Singletary also struggled all game, but he
made a tough short jumper in traffic to push the lead to three.
However, the game was in the balance until literally the final
second. Guillermo Diaz made two free throws with 22 seconds
remaining to pull Miami within one, 66-65. Anthony King then stole
an errant inbounds pass, giving the Hurricanes the chance to set up
the final shot for the win. Anthony Harris was wide open for a
3-pointer from the left wing, but his attempt bounced off the rim
and time expired as players fought for the rebound.
Diaz scored 20 points, his 26th consecutive double-digit game,
to lead Miami (16-12), but he made just 5 of 15 shots. The
Hurricanes shot 31 percent from the field and made just one field
goal in the game's final 10 minutes.
Miami, picked to finish last in the conference in the preseason
poll, entered its first ACC tournament as the No. 6 seed in Frank
Haith's first season as a head coach, but the loss probably ends
any hope of receiving an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. The
Hurricanes have lost five of their last six.
Gillen improved to 2-7 in the ACC tournament, and his only other
victory came in last year's play-in game. His future has come into
question during a slide from a 10-1 start that had the team ranked
in the Top 25 on Dec. 27.
Gillen shook up his lineup, giving freshman center Tunji Soroye
his first start of the season while bringing Reynolds and Elton
Brown off the bench. Reynolds turned out to be the only consistent
offensive threat, making 10 of the team's 22 field goals and
becoming the first Virginia player to score 30 points in an ACC
tournament game since 1995.
With expansion to 11 teams, the ACC no longer has a true play-in
game, but this contest had a play-in feel as both teams struggled
to score. The Hurricanes got eight of their first 12 points on
putbacks off offensive rebounds and didn't score a point outside
the paint until Harris' 3-pointer with 6:24 to go in the half.
A 10-0 run helped Miami take a 34-30 halftime lead. The
Hurricanes kept Virginia at arm's length for much of the second
half but never could get the lead to double digits. Miami relied on
free throws for all but two of its points over the final 10
minutes, allowing Virginia to rally for the win.