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Posted at 2:27 PM ET, 03/10/2011

Miami 69, Virginia 62 (OT): Three up, three down from the ACC tournament

By Steve Yanda

Wow. That was something. Virginia held Miami to 12 points through the first 19 minutes of the second half before giving up 10 in the final minute of regulation. There were missed free throws and turnovers and combustion galore.

Eventually, there was overtime. And once there, Miami pulled away for a 69-62 victory Thursday that sends the Cavaliers home on the first day of the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Whether Virginia's season has come to a close remains to be seen. There is a very slight chance the Cavaliers could earn a berth in the NIT. But more likely, Virginia's options will include playing in one of the other postseason tournaments that requires teams to pay to play. Not sure the folks in charge at U-Va. will go for that again. But we'll see.

As for this game, well, all you really need to know is Virginia led by nine with one minute to play, then proceeded to miss 3 of 4 free throws and turn the ball over four times in the final 60 seconds of regulation. Not a great way to go out.

Three Up:

1) 19 minutes of second-half defense. As we already covered, Miami was simply lost on offense through most of the second half. Even with their last-minute scoring flurry, the Hurricanes shot just 27.6 percent from the field and were outrebounded, 26-15, in the second half. But then that last minute rolled around and everything changed.

2) Assane Sene. One can make two definitive arguments when it comes to the 7-foot junior center. One is that he improved more than any other Cavalier during the course of this season. The other is that he still has a long, long way to go before he realizes his full potential, particularly on offense. He scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds Thursday. A solid performance for a continually improving player.

3) K.T. Harrell. We've documented his struggles in these posts for the last few weeks, but Harrell had a pretty decent outing Thursday. He shot 4 for 8 from the field and scored nine points in 21 minutes off the bench.

Three One (Very Big) Down:

1) The dreaded "C" word. There aren't many other ways to describe what Virginia did in the final minute of regulation than to say the Cavaliers choked. Two turnovers by Jontel Evans. Two missed free throws by Sammy Zeglinski. Defensive breakdowns across the board. Everyone shared blame. It was ugly, plain and simple. This team has struggled finishing out games at times this season, but in recent weeks the Cavaliers seemed to be beyond that stage in their development. They had demonstrated a maturity and confidence that certainly was not present a couple of months ago. But today -- for one critical minute -- Virginia regressed. And the fact that this could be the Cavaliers' final memory of the 2010-11 season -- the one they have to chew on for the next nine months -- makes the performance all the more crushing.

By Steve Yanda  | March 10, 2011; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  Men's Basketball  
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