GREENSBORO, N.C. — It doesn't matter whether Shane Larkin is passing the ball or taking it from the other team. The Miami point guard always wants to keep his teammates involved.
Larkin scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime to help the ninth-ranked Hurricanes pull away and beat Boston College 69-58 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Kenny Kadji added 15 points and Trey McKinney Jones finished with 12 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (25-6), who got a serious scare from eighth-seeded BC (16-17) before advancing to a semifinal matchup Saturday with fifth-seeded North Carolina State, which beat Virginia in another quarterfinal.
Miami let an early 13-point lead disappear, then shot nearly 70 percent in the second half while making all the plays down the stretch to avoid becoming the ACC's first No. 1 seed to lose its tournament opener since 1997.
And the Hurricanes – who have won at least one ACC tournament game in eight of their 10 seasons in the league – have Larkin to thank for their latest escape.
"By adding Shane to that group (of seniors), he adds an element that allows all of them to play better," coach Jim Larannaga said. "He's so good at what he does. A lot of times you'll see (Larkin) in the first half try to get the ball to (his teammates), and then the second half starts, he starts to pick his spots to attack and score or find the open man. We absolutely needed that."
Patrick Heckmann finished with 15 points for the Eagles, and his 3-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes left tied it at 55.
Durand Scott put Miami in front to stay with two free throws with 3:01 left, and Larkin took over a few moments later. He came up with a key steal from Olivier Hanlan, then buried a momentum-shifting 3 off an inbounds pass to make it 60-55 with 1:49 left.
"It wasn't just me who got the steal," Larkin said, adding that Kadji was in on the trap and Rion Brown made a heady play to save the ball. "It was all of us."
After Brown swished a pretty hanging jumper with 57.6 seconds left, and Kadji added a free throw to make it 63-55, BC didn't get closer than five points the rest of the way. McKinney Jones punctuated the victory with a dunk with 17.2 seconds left.
"We just had mental breakdowns" during the final 3 minutes, Hanlan said. "The little things hurt us."
Larkin also keyed the defensive effort on Hanlan, who a day earlier set an ACC tournament record for freshmen with 41 points in the first-round win over Georgia Tech.
Hanlan finished this one with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, missing 5 of his final 6 attempts after making 16 consecutive shots over two days. His streak ended when his 3-pointer over Larkin hit off the rim with just under 14 minutes left, and Larkin also forced him into four turnovers.
"It's very difficult to come back from that type of performance and not expect one of the best defensive teams in the country to put you on lockdown," BC coach Steve Donahue said. "I thought he handled it well, and I thought we played off it well."
Ryan Anderson also had 14 points for the Eagles, who had their ACC-best four-game winning streak snapped and were denied their first semifinal appearance since 2007.
They lost twice to Miami during the regular season in vastly differing ways: The Hurricanes romped by 32 points in Coral Gables a few weeks after holding on for a one-point win at BC.
And for a while, this one looked like a repeat of that blowout – at least until BC dug itself out of a double-digit hole for the second straight day.
After rallying from 15 points down to beat the Yellow Jackets in the first round, the Eagles spotted Miami a 21-8 lead before closing the half on a 19-4 run and took their first lead when Anderson's layup with 4 seconds left made it 27-25. That coincided with a brutally cold spell for Miami, which missed 14 of its last 16 shots of the half against a BC team that started pressing the Hurricanes and defending them with a zone.
"We got a little passive," Larranaga said. "We didn't attack the way we wanted to."
BC stretched its lead to 30-25 on Heckmann's 3-pointer 20 seconds into the half. Miami eventually countered with an 11-2 run and took a 48-44 lead on Larkin's deep 3, and things remained tight until Larkin and the Hurricanes finally pulled away.
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