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Posted: Friday March 9, 2012 2:54PM ; Updated: Saturday March 10, 2012 1:08AM

ACC: UNC, Duke move on; NC State nearly secures tournament bid

Story Highlights

Despite an injured John Henson, North Carolina rolled to 85-69 win over Maryland

Duke survived an ugly performance to pull off a 60-56 win over Virgnia Tech

North Carolina will now face N.C. State after its 67-64 victory against Virginia

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John Henson's X-rays showed that his wrist had not been broken during the game.
John Henson's X-rays showed that his wrist had not been broken during the game.
REUTERS/Chris Keane

ATLANTA (AP) -- With defensive ace John Henson cheering from the bench, an ice pack on his ailing wrist, North Carolina showed just how deep its talent runs.

Kendall Marshall's dynamic playmaking turned the rim into a gathering place for a Tar Heels dunkfest. Reggie Bullock buried a couple of huge 3-pointers to get the rout going. Seven-footer Tyler Zeller dominated on the inside. Harrison Barnes showed off some NBA-caliber finishing moves.

The fourth-ranked Tar Heels didn't even need Henson, their best defensive player and rebounder. Hardly looking short-handed, they romped to an 85-69 victory over Maryland in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Friday.

North Carolina (28-4) simply had too many weapons for Maryland (17-15), which was essentially a one-man show. Terrell Stoglin scored 30 points, but none of his teammates had more than 11.

"The bench players came in and gave us a lot," Bullock said. "Hopefully it continues until John gets back."

Marshall knew he had to step up after Henson sprained his left wrist in the first half.

"I didn't know how serious it was," the guard said. "But when he started squirming for a long period of time, I thought it could be something kind of serious. He dealt with a little wrist pain last year. We're hoping for the best."

Marshall was called for carrying the ball early in the second half - stunningly, the first time all season the point guard who has the ball in his hands so much of the time had been whistled for palming or traveling.

The Tar Heels could overlook that mistake. Marshall scored 13 points, knocking down three attempts from 3-point range, but it was his passing that really stood out. He set up his teammates with 12 assists, many of them resulting in layups or dunks.

It was another signature performance in a stellar season for Marshall, who broke the ACC record for assists in a season. He now has 311, surging past the mark set by Georgia Tech's Craig Neal in 1987-88.

Bullock hit back-to-back 3s to start the second half, quickly extending a 10-point halftime lead to 42-26.

"My teammates believe in me to take shots and be able to knock down shots," Bullock said. "Kendall, he's going to find me. I just run wide like coach tells us to do and he's going to find me. They were giving me a lot of shots. I felt confident taking them."

Led by Stoglin, the ACC's leading scorer, Maryland sliced the deficit to seven points a couple of times before the Tar Heels pulled away again.

"We were tested," coach Roy Williams said. "You may look at the score and think we were not. It looked much smoother out there than we felt as a staff sitting on the bench."

North Carolina advanced to Saturday's semifinals against North Carolina State, which defeated Virginia 67-64. It's not yet known if Henson will be available, though Williams said nothing appears to be broken.

Henson went down hard when fouled driving to the basket early in the game, landing on his left wrist. He flexed it repeatedly and finally came out of the game with 13:51 left in the first half. After going off to the locker room to get checked out, he returned to the bench to big cheers from the largely pro-North Carolina crowd, his wrist heavily taped.

There were more cheers when Henson returned to the court with 8:06 remaining. But he lasted less than a minute, coming out when it was apparent he couldn't play with his usual effectiveness. He just didn't feel comfortable gripping the ball or catching passes.

No fractures showed up on X-rays hastily taken at halftime, but Henson was done for the day. He watched the second half with ice on his wrist, congratulating his teammates with his right hand only.

There were plenty of kudos to go around. Bullock and Barnes finished with 15 points. Zeller chipped in with 14. So did James Michael McAdoo, taking advantage of extra playing time with Henson sidelined.

"James Michael, he brings that motor," Bullock said.

Stoglin started out strong by making his first four shots - including a couple of 3s - and three straight free throws. But when he went cold, missing his next five shots, Maryland's hopes faded away.

Things got a bit chippy at the end. Maryland's Berend Weijs was called for a flagrant foul on McAdoo, who fell on his left hand. But he wasn't hurt as bad as Henson, staying in the game until Williams cleared his bench.

Maryland endured a transitional first season under new coach Mark Turgeon, who took over after Gary Williams retired. Clearly, the Terrapins have a ways to go to catch up to the ACC's elite teams, losing to North Carolina three straight times this season - by an average of more than 16 points a game.

"Their length gives us problems," Turgeon said. "I was disappointed we couldn't score on McAdoo. I thought we could score on him. He is not 7 foot. Our guys were just out of it. Our post guys were just out of it."

Stoglin is looking for things to improve next season.

"We learned so much this year," he said. "We are a young team."

Rivers, Duke survive Virginia Tech scare

ATLANTA (AP) -- Tyler Thornton kept finding himself open, so he kept shooting.

Fortunately for Duke, he made enough of them to fend off a one-and-done for the perennial champs of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Thornton scored a career-best 13 points and Austin Rivers hustled for a clinching three-point play that carried the sixth-ranked Blue Devils to a 60-56 victory over cold-shooting Virginia Tech in the ACC quarterfinals Friday night.

It wasn't pretty.

It was good enough to keep Duke (27-5) in the hunt for its fourth straight tournament title and 11th in 14 years.

"I don't try to coach stats," Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I try to coach wins. Our kids have a lot of heart."

They certainly have a knack of winning at this tournament, no matter how well they play, making it 10 straight victories since their last loss in the 2008 semifinals. Even with a key member of their rotation, forward Ryan Kelly, sitting out the trip to Atlanta because of a sprained right foot, Duke advanced to face No. 17 Florida State on Saturday.

And, of course, the Blue Devils would like another crack at their most bitter rival, No. 4 North Carolina, in Sunday's final.

"These kids are pretty resilient," Krzyzewski said. "We try to hang in there."

While Thornton, averaging just 3.7 points a game, provided the unexpected offense, Rivers came up with the biggest play of the game. The Hokies trailed 55-51 and were looking to make it a one-possession game when Erick Green drove toward the lane and put up a one-hander. It ricocheted off the rim - appropriate for Virginia Tech on this night - and Miles Plumlee got a hand on the ball, swatting it toward midcourt.

Four players took off after it, two from each team. Rivers, the freshman son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, got there first, scooped it up and kept right on going. He made the layup, drew a foul on Robert Brown and knocked down the free throw with 15.1 seconds remaining.

"That's the first sprint I've seen Austin win this year," Krzyzewski joked. "I should've known better. I need to put a ball out in front of him, where he thinks he might score, when we do our sprints. Then he might win a few more."

Duke went down to the wire with the 10th-seeded team, even though the Hokies (16-17) struggled through more than 8 minutes without making a field goal in the second half. Rivers scored 17 points and Mason Plumlee chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Thornton, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, had not attempted more than six shots in a game all season. He put it up a staggering 16 times - all but three of them from beyond the 3-point arc. Three of those went down, and Duke needed every one to hold off the feisty Hokies.

"I had open shots," Thornton said. "I was going to take them."

That was Virginia Tech's plan all along. It didn't work out.

"We wanted to make Tyler Thornton beat us, plain and simple," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said.

It was amazing Virginia Tech hung around as long as it did, considering the Hokies made only 16 of 53 shots and needed a late flourish just to nudge their average above 30 percent. After Green's jumper with 13:14 remaining, Virginia Tech didn't score again until Brown hit a short fallaway jumper with 4:53 left to make it 50-42.

"Offensively, we weren't very good. That's just the reality," Greenberg said. "We had opportunities. We just didn't finish."

The Hokies' frustration was epitomized by a stretch near the end of their drought. Brown pulled up for a little 10-foot bank shot that wasn't even close, the ball clanking off the side of the rim as his shoulders slumped. The Hokies hustled for the offensive rebound, setting up Green for a drive to the hoop. The ball spun all the way around the iron - and out.

Green broke into a frustrated smile as he headed back up the court, seeming to sense that nothing was going to go on this night.

Brown and Green led the Hokies with 16 points apiece, but Green made only 3-of-16 shots. He did most of his damage at the foul line, going 9-for-9.

"We couldn't capitalize in the lane like we needed to," said Dorenzo Hudson, held to 6 points on 3-of-9 shooting. "I felt like we needed just that one burst to get us over the hump."

It never came, so Duke is moving on despite a 37-percent shooting night.

"I'm really proud of our team," River said. "We didn't shoot the ball well, but we didn't let that dictate our defense. I think we've learned in that area."

Seminoles pound short-handed 'Canes

ATLANTA (AP) -- Florida State believes it is ready for the next step.

Bring on the ACC tournament semifinals. Bring on Duke.

"I think we know we have a tremendous opportunity to do something great," Michael Snaer said after leading No. 17 Florida State past short-handed Miami, 82-71, on Friday night in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.

Snaer scored 20 points and Ian Miller had 18 to lead Florida State (22-9) into Saturday's semifinals against Duke, the No. 2 seed and the nation's No. 6 team.

"We know we've got to be at our very best because we know they're going to be at their very best," said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.

Miami was not its very best.

The Hurricanes played without their leading scorer, Durand Scott. The university ruled Scott ineligible on Friday for receiving impermissible benefits.

Miami coach Jim Larranaga said he was told Scott was ineligible Friday afternoon. He told the team at the pregame meal about four hours before the game.

""We've been in that type of situation before," said Malcolm Grant, who led Miami with 19 points. "We told (Scott) that we had his back, and we would go out and play our hardest for him."

Shane Larkin had 16 for Miami (19-12).

While the Seminoles are hoping to improve their seed in the NCAA tournament, Miami is unsure where it stands with the selection committee and if Scott would be eligible for the tournament.

Florida State fans had a suggestion for Miami, chanting "NIT, NIT" in the final seconds.

"I think we've played well enough that if we do get selected we can make a run in the tournament," Larranaga said of his team's NCAA hopes. "But that's out of our hands."

Florida State is returning to the semifinals after finishing third in the regular season for the third straight year. The Seminoles lost in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament each of the last two years after falling in the 2009 championship game in Atlanta.

Bernard James and Luke Loucks each had 14 points for Florida State.

"We're confident in our abilities," said Snaer, who made four of five 3-point attempts. "We're playing like it. We know we need all of our pieces and we need each other to win. I can't wait to get started."

Miami struggled to score in its first game of the tournament and those struggles continued without Scott. Miami is seeking Scott's reinstatement from the NCAA.

Friday it was sophomore Rion Brown who started for Scott and had 13 points.

Even with Scott, who leads the team with his average of 12.9 points per game, the Hurricanes didn't light up the scoreboard in Thursday's 54-36 win over Georgia Tech. Scott had 11 points in the game.

Miami couldn't get it going in the first half against the Seminoles' man-to-man defense. Miami made only 9 of 32 shots (28.1 percent) in the first 20 minutes. Florida State led 37-26 at halftime after making seven 3-pointers in the half.

Each team relied heavily on 3-pointers.

Miami stayed close early in the second half with the help of 3-pointers by Malcolm Grant, Brown and Larkin.

A three-point play by James gave Florida State a 60-52 lead, but Miami closed the gap to three points on another 3-pointer by Grant, followed by baskets by Brown and Kenny Kadji.

Ian Miller's short jumper ended Miami's run and helped the Seminoles quickly push the lead to 11 points at 70-59.

C.J. Leslie and the Wolfpack advance to ACC semifinals

ATLANTA (AP) -- C.J. Leslie had 19 points and 14 rebounds and North Carolina State, attempting to remove all doubt about its NCAA tournament status, beat Virginia 67-64 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the ACC tournament.

Mike Scott had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Joe Harris finished with 18 points for Virginia.

The Wolfpack will play No. 1 seed North Carolina in Saturday's first semifinal.

N.C. State (21-11) came to Atlanta listed as a possible bubble team for the NCAA tournament before beating Boston College on the opening day of the ACC tournament.

The Wolfpack knew this was a huge game, celebrating as the buzzer sounded as though they had just punched their NCAA tournament ticket.

Virginia (22-9), the No. 4 seed, had a first-round bye but was denied its first spot in the ACC semifinals since 1995, extending the league's longest drought.

N.C. State's Richard Howell, who had 10 points, missed two free throws with 1:11 remaining, costing the Wolfpack a chance to extend a 63-60 lead. Scott missed a short jumper for Virginia with 40 seconds remaining.

Lorenzo Brown, who had 15 points, made one of two free throws to push the lead to four points. Harris made two free throws for Virginia with 25 seconds remaining. Following a quick foul, Scott Wood made only one of two free throws for N.C. State, leaving the lead at three points.

Harris then missed a three-pointer for Virginia and fouled Brown, who made both free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining for a 67-62 lead.

Wood sank five 3-pointers while scoring 22 points in Thursday's 78-57 win over Boston College. He was 0-for-4 on 3-point attempts against Virginia before ending the drought with a 3-pointer with less than 1 second remaining in the first half.

Wood, fouled on the play by Sammy Zeglinski, sank the free throw to complete the four-point play and give the Wolfpack a 36-33 halftime lead.

Virginia led 9-3 before the Wolfpack took off on a 14-0 run. The Cavaliers recovered to briefly take the lead late in the half.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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