North Carolina blows out Miami, 78-53, in ACC Tournament quarterfinals

Tar Heels finish with five players in double digits to advance to Friday night in Brooklyn

Brad Penner—USA Today Sports
North Carolina Tar Heels forward Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Miami Hurricanes forward Kamari Murphy (21) during the first half of an ACC Conference Tournament game at Barclays Center.

BROOKLYN — Stilman White and Luke Maye scored the final five points for North Carolina in a lopsided second half that resulted in a 78-53 win for the Tar Heels.While the B-team got some run late in the game, it was Isaiah Hicks who paced the Heels with 19 points and six rebounds. The big man went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe and missed just two shots in the post.Hicks, who has often been in foul trouble this season, finished the game with just one foul. After coach Roy Williams said that’s why he got to play 25 minutes, Hicks shared his thoughts on the performance.”I’d rather be on the floor not worrying about nothing, just playing,” Hicks said. “Just to have one foul in the game just allowed me to play, not worrying about nothing.”Williams’ response?”Not worrying about anything is better English,” Williams said with a laugh.Hicks was accompanied by Justin Jackson, Joel Berry and Kennedy Meeks as four Heels hit double-digits in the scoring department. Despite leading by just five at the half, UNC ran away early in the second with 32-13 run at one point to clinch a spot in the semifinals.One of the biggest areas of improvement was on the boards, with the Heels outrebounding the Hurricanes 24-16 in the second half.”We’re still playing. We like that,” Williams said. “Second half, I thought we played well. First half, they outrebounded us by one. Second half, we outrebounded them by eight. One of the things we wanted to do was do a better job on the backboards, to say the least.”The second half was a wild one for the Heels where literally everything seemed to go right. Maye went 2-for-2 from behind the arc after hitting seven triples all season. Theo Pinson had an “alley-oops” that resulted in a 3-pointer of his own.The reaction from Pinson on the court was only topped by his response afterward.”The ball was travelling toward the basket and I was like, ‘Oh!'” Pinson explained. “But it was going straight toward the basket, so I was like, ‘That might go in.’ Once it went in, I was like, ‘Wooooow!’ And then the airball, I told coach, ‘That was the basketball gods.'”The defending ACC champions moved to four straight wins in the conference tournament and are just one win away from returning to the finals.The win secures a ticket to the semifinals for North Carolina, the first half of what could amount to an all-N.C. matchup for a berth into the finals. UNC will either face No. 4 Louisville or No. 5 Duke, two teams the Heels beat during the regular season.