BLACKSBURG (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – With March Madness drawing closer by the day, things are coming down to the wire in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Miami and Virginia Tech, currently two of the ACC’s hottest teams, square off in Blacksburg, Va., on Monday with plenty still on the line as the ACC regular-season race nears its conclusion.
The Hurricanes, coming off a pair of grind-it-out upset victories over No. 18 Virginia and No. 10 Duke that all but sealed an NCAA Tournament bid, are tied with the Blue Devils for fifth place while the Hokies, who crushed Boston College 91-75 on Saturday and also look like a tournament team, are tied for seventh place with Syracuse and Virginia.
The defensive-minded Hurricanes held the Cavaliers and Blue Devils to a combined 31.6 percent shooting while allowing only 48 and 50 points as they upped their winning streak to four games last week.
Versatile freshman guard Bruce Brown had Miami’s first seven points on his way to scoring 25 of the Hurricanes’ 54 points against Duke as they won despite shooting only 37.9 percent from the field.
While Miami won with defense on Saturday, the Hokies did it with offense, shooting 67.4 percent from the field — their best percentage ever in an ACC game — while going 12-of-18 from 3-point range against the Eagles.
“They’re playing with great, great spirit,” said coach Buzz Williams, whose team has won four of their last five games, told reporters after the victory. “Their togetherness and the chemistry at which they’re working is at an all-time high. … It’s very inspiring to me. I don’t think anybody could have predicted that what has transpired has transpired.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT MIAMI (20-8, 10-6): Brown (12.0 points a game, 6.0 rebounds), who also had four assists and two blocks against the Blue Devils, has been at his best against the toughest competition, averaging 23 points in the Hurricanes’ wins over ranked foes North Carolina, Virginia and Duke.
Miami has prevailed in the last two games despite senior guard and leading scorer Davon Reed (15.2 points) going only 5-of-21 from the field.
Coach Jim Larranaga is getting great defense on the perimeter from Brown (42 steals), sophomore Anthony Lawrence (37) and Reed (36) and inside from senior Kamari Murphy (7.0 points, 7.6 rebounds), sophomore Ebuka Izundu (4.7 points, 3.2 rebounds) and freshman Dewan Huell (6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds), who have combined to block 66 shots.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (20-8, 9-7): Junior forward Zach LeDay (16.6 points, 7.0 rebounds) comes off the bench but there is no doubt he is Williams’ go-to scorer, shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 77.5 percent from the foul line.
Virginia Tech is 3-1 since they lost forward Chris Clarke with a torn ACL thanks in large part to the play of his replacement Ty Outlaw (5.0 points), who has averaged 14.3 points on 75 percent shooting from the field in the last three games.
The Hokies lead the ACC in field-goal percentage (49.1) and 3-point shooting percentage (40.6) with four players — Seth Allen, Outlaw, Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill — shooting between 40.1 and 47.9 percent from beyond the arc.
- Miami won the earlier meeting 74-68 behind Reed’s 18-point performance.
- Junior point guard Ja’Quan Newton, Miami’s second-leading scorer (14.7 points), returned from a three-game suspension and scored seven points off the bench against Duke.
- Virginia Tech sophomore point guard Justin Robinson, who is sixth in the ACC in assists per game (4.7), set a career high and tied the school record for assists with 11 against Boston College.
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