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ACC Live Blog: Clemson beats Ga. Tech in overtime

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WNCN's Dane Huffman is at the Greensboro Coliseum and is blogging live throughout the ACC Tournament.

CLEMSON ADVANCES: What ws a ragged game throughout regulation ended with a flourish early Friday morning as Clemson held off Georgia Tech 69-65 in overtime.

The Tigers almost won the game in regulation but Tech hit a shot right at the end.

Overtime was a sizzling affair, but Clemson's DaMarcus Harrison scored on a driving shot and then the Tigers hit the free throws they had to have. Even a late three-pointer by Tech wasn't enough in a game that ended around 12:05 a.m. Friday.

WOW, WHAT A SHOT: Georgia Tech just scored and only nine tenths of a second remain in the regulation of the Tech-Clemson game. It's tied at 55 with five more minutes to play.

CLOSE GAME: We've suddenly got an interesting game here at the end of Thursday night.

Georgia Tech has led most of the game but Clemson has kept chipping away and now has a 53-51 lead with only three minutes to play.

TECH UP IN SECOND HALF: Georgia Tech is continuing to stay out front in this contest and now leads Clemson, 40-36.

Georgia Tech is only the 11th seed, so this is a bit of a surprise. The winner here plays Duke Friday night at 9:30 in the quarterfinals. 

By the way, Clemson beat Duke soundly earlier this season in Littlejohn Coliseum, when Jaron Blossomgame had a monster game. Duke's Jabari Parker had 15 points, but only five after halftime.

TECH UP AT THE HALF: It's another low-scoring game here in Greensboro on Thursday for the final game. Georgia Tech is up 29-27 on Clemson at the half.

Clemson's K.J. Daniels is the leading scorer in the game,  with nine points. 

Many of the fans here today where Wolfpack fans, and it's a light crowd closing out the night.

PACK IS CLUTCH: The harsh truth is N.C. State has let some games slip away this season, which is why its NCAA hopes are so slim. N.C. Central, Missouri, at Wake Forest and especially at Syracuse are all games State could have pushed into the win column.

So that's why Wolfpack fans were so anxious Thursday night, when State had the ball in a tie game at 53-all against well-drilled Miami.

But State coach Mark Gottfried called two straight plays that worked out beautifully in the 67-58 win.

The first was a set play to T.J. Warren on the right block, near the basket. Gottfried said after the game he wanted to get the ball low so he could score or get fouled. Sure enough, Warren scored quickly to put N.C. State up.

The next possession was even better. State came down, set up the offense patiently, and Cat Barber looked to Gottfried for the play call.

This time, Gottfried had Ralston Turner loop inside and then out, where he caught the ball from Barber and banged in a huge three-pointer. 

"That was terrific execution," Gottfried said.  

Warren and Turner came up big despite the fact that Miami played a triangle-and-two defense the entire second half.

"Our intentions were to try to keep their best two players from hurting us," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

Still, those shots were the start of a 10-point run that ended any chance of State losing this one.

"I guess it comes with experience," Turner said. "We didn't want to panic. The last time we played Miami in Raleigh (a one-point NCSU win), we kind of panicked and let it go. We told ourselves we didn't want to panic, to just make plays. And we did." 

That sets up a meeting Friday with Syracuse, which delivered N.C. State its toughest blow of the year. Wolfpack players talked a great deal Thursday about how athletic and tall Syracuse is, and how the Orangemen's matchup zone is tough to handle.

And, as Warren said, the loss at Syracuse "was a tough one to take."

"We'll be ready tomorrow," Turner said Thursday in the Wolfpack locker room.

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PACK MOVES TO FRIDAY:This game could have gone either way, but N.C. State, to its credit, ran some smart plays down the stretch and hit the baskets it had to have to beat Miami Thursday at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Pack won 67-58.

Coach Mark Gottfried called time with the score tied at 53, only 2:33 left and the huge State fan base clearly concerned.

T.J. Warren converted a basket on the right baseline that put State ahead for good. Ralston Turner followed with a huge three-pointer and Miami just wilted from there. Some great hustle by State, like Jordan Vandenberg grabbing the rebound after a Cat Barber free throw miss, kept State rolling.

The Wolfpack faces Syracuse Friday at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals. Of course, the two teams played a phenomenal game earlier this season that the Orange won in the final seconds.

KEY BASKETS: The huge N.C. State fan base is into this game full throttle now. State called time with the score tied at 53 and only 2:33 and got the ball to - who else? - T.J. Warren.

He scored on a nice move on the right baseline to give State the lead, and then Cat Barber got a steal. That set up another called play, this one a feed to Ralston Turner on the left wing that he buried for three points.

Miami missed the front end of a one and one, and State came back with one free throw Barber and another by Vandenberg at 1:11 to play.

Right now it's State ahead, 60-53, with less than a minute to play.

IMPORTANT TIME AHEAD: Well, N.C. State just coughed up a bunch of momentum and Coach Mark Gottfried called time with 5 minutes to go and State up 51-50.

This is a big stretch for State. The Pack has Warren and most of its starters on the floor, but State's Tyler Lewis is continuing to struggle on defense. He just picked up a block call to send Garrius Adams to the line, but Adams missed the first shot of a one-and-one.

You get the impression State only wants to play the diminutive Lewis when Vandenberg is in the game to block shots behind him.

Meanwhile, Warren missed a shot he forced up against three guys, and Davon Reed hit a three-pointer for Miami.

There's a massive crowd of red here, but the Pack fans are clearly c oncerned as this game hurtles toward a conclusion.

PACK RUN: T.J. Warren is showing why he is the ACC Player of the Year, with a soft running jumper in the lane and a great bounce pass to Jordan Vandenberg that led to a three-point play.

After a first half that made you wonder if either team knew how to run an offense, the pace of the game has picked up considerably.

State's up 47-40 now, but Miami is playing hard and getting some shots to fall. Rion Brown, in particularly, is tossing in jump shots to keep this close.

TIGHT GAME: Well, both teams woke up a bit as the second half opened. State took a 32-29 but Miami fought back for a 33-32 lead.

T.J. Warren - who else - scored for State to put the Pack up, 34-33. Ralston Turner just nailed a three and the Pack's lead is now 37-33.

HALFTIME: N.C. State leads 26-22 at the half here, but it's been a ragged game on both sides.

Miami has nine turnovers in the first half alone and hasn't made a three-pointer in the contest. Remember, this is a team that had to completely rebuild after winning the ACC Tournament in 2013.

N.C. State, though, squandered a chance to have a much bigger lead. T.J. Warren is doing his job with 12 first-half points, and the big, rangy forward is able to get his shots when he wants. But he's not getting much help. Ralsto Turner has six points for State and no one else has  more than two. It's hard to make a compelling case to the NCAA selection committee with an effort like that.

PACE PICKS UP: This game suddenly got a lot more intense.

N.C. State went without scoring from a basket from a score by Ralston Turner at 13:08 until a score by Beejay Anya at 7:08.

Miami put scrappy guard Manu Lecomte on T.J. Warren for a while, with Lecomte trying to make up for a distinct lack of height with scrappiness.

It worked for a bit, until Warren  started to shoot over him. Cat Barber had a steal and basket in transition and Lennard Freeman scored on a nifty pass from Barber on a break to help State hold a 21-19 advantage.

But Miami has broken out of its slump as well and made this game a close one.

NO OFFENSE: N.C. State's offense has ground to a halt here. The Wolfpack has only 13 points with 7:19 to play in the first half, which is only good because Miami has only 12.

A slugfest, this is not.

State came out moving the ball precisely and had great flow to its offense early. But the Pack's Tyler Lewis was subbed out because of defensive problems and the offense just lacked any rhythm after that.

The good news for State is Miami is doing much either.

BAD RUN: Well, as soon as we wrote about all T.J. Warren's scoring, he missed four straight shots. Not only that, but State just had a miserable offensive possession that ended with Vandenberg taking a jumper, and missing, right at the shot clock.

State looks out of synch right now and just called timeout. You can see it on the floor - Tyler Lewis is out of the game and State doesn't seem to have any flow to its offense.

By the way, Coach Mark Gottfried just put Anya in the game and Anya set a screen that looked like an NFL play. No one's getting around that kid easily.

STATE AGGRESSIVE: N.C. State is off to an assertive start in the ACC Tournament. The Pack is up 10-2 on Miami, and this is no fluke. State looks aggressive on defense - three turnovers for Miami already - and is attacking the basket on offense.

State's T.J. Warren was slow to get into the offense early on, with Ralston Turner and Kyle Washington getting the early baskets for State.

But Warren is a fluid player with plenty of ways to score, and he showed up quickly. Warren grabbed a miss and scored, hit two free throws after being fouled in transition, and then tossed in a beautiful running jumper. On that last bucket, he started a drive, saw the lane was jammed and pulled up for a nifty floater that sank from about 12 feet. Michael Jordan made that shot look easy, but hey, it's not, especially with a hand in your face.

NC STATE AND NCAA: The hottest player in the ACC takes the floor for N.C. State tonight when the Wolfpack faces Miami. And State finds itself in need of a win with its NCAA hopes in peril.

Warren, the ACC player of the year, has a staggering 83 points, six assists and seven steals over the past two games. That helped lift the Pack to seventh in the league, but may not be enough to get State into NCAA play.

Those losses to N.C. Central and Wake Forest don't help, although the Pack came excruciatingly close in losses to Syracuse and UNC.

State played Miami once this season, winning at the Hurricanes 56-55 on Feb. 8. Warren had 27 points in that contest and Ralston Turner had 17. Warren scored 19 of his points in the second half.

Rion Brown led the Hurricanes, although he made only 5 of 14 shots while scoring 20. Miami's Raphael Akpejiori could have tied the score after he grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. He made the first free throw with 3.5 seconds left but missed the second.

WAKE FOREST IS OUT: Well, once again we'll have an ACC Tournament without Wake Forest hanging around long. On Thursday, Pitt blitzed Wake 84-55 in a game that was never close.

Pitt advances to face North Carolina in what could be a terrific quarterfinal, and the Deacons will wait for a decision on the future of Coach Jeff Bzdelik.

This was a pretty dismal effort for a Deacon program accustomed to bad performances in March. But even the most ardent Wake fans will have a hard time accepting a 29-point loss half an hour from campus.

By the way, this was Wake Forest's second-worst loss ever in ACC play. The Deacons lost to Duke by 30 in 1966, 103-73.

"Give Pittsburgh a lot of credit," said Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik. "They hit us right between the eyes, and we were on our heels the entire game."

Asked whether he would be meeting with athletics director Ron Wellman, Bzdelik said, "Im only going to answer questions about the game."

MASCOT CHALLENGE: All of the ACC mascots - even Maryland! - played in a mascot basketball game at halftime of the Wake Forest-Pitt contest.

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The mascot getting the biggest cheer? By far N.C. State's Wolf.

The mascot getting the most boos? By far the Duke Blue Devil.

North Carolina's Ramses got a mixed bag of boos and cheers.

Oh, the Devil got the last laugh. The only basket scored - hey, it's hard to see inside a mascot's head - was scored by the Devil on a nifty layup.

An omen, perhaps?

Oh, and the Syracuse Orange tried to draw a charge. No dice.

PITT IN COMMAND: Pittsburgh has roared to a 50-30 lead over Wake Forest in a game that hasn't been close from the beginning.

Yesterday, the Deacons won their first game in the ACC Tournament since 2007, and Wake just doesn't have the same fire today.

Well, and Pitt is really good, too. But this game has been a steady procession of Pitt baskets - Michael Young just swished a jumper from the right baseline as these words were typed - and Deacon frustration.

This game just has a sense of inevitability about it. Many of Wake Forest's shots are leaning-back type of jumpers with little chance of really falling in.

Wake player Devin Thomas just barked at an official about a call, got ignored, and a Deacon player came over and pulled him away and told him to drop it.

Right now it's 60-34 Pittsburgh.

WAKE ON A RUN: The Deacons are trying to make this interesting, with the score now 28-17, but just can't put together enough points to close the gap. The Deacons' Andre Washington just drove to the basket and was ready to score when the Pitt defender slapped the ball away - and it bounced off Washington and out of bounds.

So it's 30-19 now with just 3:43 to go in the first half.

PITT COULD BE TOUGH FRIDAY: The winner of this game faces North Carolina on Friday in the quarterfinals, and Pitt looks like a team that could give the Tar Heels trouble.

The Panthers lost 75-71 in Chapel Hill Feb. 15, one of many close losses for a team that's still 23-8 overall.

Pitt is big, physical and rotates well on defense. When you see them up close, you can't get over how athletic their players look - like a bunch of defensive ends decided to suit up for basketball.

Pitt moves the ball well on offense, although they don't strike you as a particularly gifted offensive team. Many of their shots look awkward and forced, even when the players are open. Lamar Patterson leads the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game.

But defense is their forte. Pitt players are always in good defensive position and they claim the rebounds with authority.

UNC's star players did have a good game against them in the Smith Center, with James Michael McAdoo getting 24 points and 12 boards and Marcus Paige scoring 18 points.

Still, if you're looking for a surprise team in this tournament, Pitt could be it.

PITT IS ROLLING: You have to admit it looked odd to see the Pitt cheerleaders running on the court with the team and the big 'P I T T' flags behind them.

Really? Pitt's in the ACC? Oh yea, that's right, they are.

And they are making sure people here know it, too. Pitt is playing some focused basketball right now and simply pounding Wake Forest.

The Deacons look inordinately timid - Wake just fumbled the ball on two straight passes, refused to take an open three-pointer and then forced up a long ball that had no chance.

Pittsburgh leads this one 19-9 with 10:48 to play but the Panthers look like an upper tier team that's simply taking care of business against a mediocre foe.

It's 23-11 now and Wake can't hit the few open looks it is getting.

WAKE OPENS SECOND DAY:Wake Forest played well on Wednesday, but the Deacons have a tougher assignment today against rugged Pitt.

The Panthers, in their first ACC Tournament, are already busting ahead of Wake Forest with a 9-2 lead, and Pitt's swarming defense is making it hard for Wake to dribble.

Wake has already called time-out with 17:01 left in the first half, and this one could get ugly fast. 

By the way, the Pitt band greeted Wake Forest during the team announcements by holding up newspapers for the "Zoo News" and pretending to ignore the Deacons. The Pitt fans call themselves the "Oakland Zoo," named for the Pittsburgh neighborhood that is home to the school.

And hey, at least someone still reads the paper.

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WOW, WHAT A PLAY: Florida State and Maryland just played a terrific game, with an amazing ending.

The Terps' Dez Wells hit two free throws with 15.1 seconds left to tie the score at 65.

But Florida State worked the ball around and passed inside to an open Boris Bojanovsky, who dunked with four-tenths of a second left.

That gave Florida State a 67-65 victory  and with that, the Terps are done with ACC play. 

Ian Miller led FSU with 17 points and Bojanovsky, who played well down the stretch, had 12 points.

CLOSE NOW: Tied at 63 now, with Maryland scoring on a great drive, pass and dunk and Florida State fumbling the ball out of bounds. 

FSU's Boris Bojanovsky just hit two free throws for the Seminoles, and its 65-63 with 29.8 seconds to play. Terps ball.

DOWN THE STRETCH: Florida State still leads this one, 61-57, with 4:13 to play, but Maryland is showing some life.

The Terps are pressing fullcourt to put some pressure on FSU, with marginal success.

Florida State just scored on a drive.

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By the way, the Florida State band is right by courtside, and you have to give it to those guys - they're hilarious. They've been yelling at Maryland players the entire time, although they are now quite quiet as they watch the Florida State "Golden Girls" go through a dance routine at a timeout.

Geez, the band even has a guitarist, too. That's cool.

CLOSE GAME IN SECOND HALF: This Maryland-Florida State game is turning into a fascinating one.

Florida State, with some pressure defense and three-point shooting, has bolted to a 51-43 lead. The Seminoles' Aaron Thomas, a tough, athletic guard, is draped all over Maryland's Seth Allen and making it tough for Allen to get any more good looks at the basket.

Allen was terrific in the first half, with 13 points for Maryland, but Thomas has taken him out of the game some here in the second half.

You had to wonder how motivated Maryland would be in its final ACC Tournament, but the Terps played with real passion in the first half. This second half, Maryland looks like it's ready to board the bus to the Big 10.

Right now there is 10:35 to play in the second half. The winner plays Virginia Friday.

TERPS TAKE THE LEAD: Guard Seth Allen is having a big game for Maryland, with 13 points already. The Terps are now up 30-25 on Florida State with 2:52 to go in the first half.

BORN TO RUN?: Odd moment here in the final ACC Tournament for the Maryland Terps. At a TV timeout midway through the first half, the Terps band stood up and launched a rendition of Springsteen's "Born to Run."

Well, OK, but the Terps are about to run off to the Big Ten. So maybe there's something to that.

Either way, Maryland is locked in a good game with Florida State in the first game of the Thursday session.

There's some energy on the court, and in the gym, as the Seminoles have a 19-13 lead with 8:35 left in the first half. Guard Seth Allen has nine points for the Terps and Dez Wells, their star in the 2013 tournament, has five.

GOOD-BYE, TERPS: Some of the ACC's most storied games came in Greensboro and involved Maryland, so it's appropriate that the Terps' final games in the league are played here.

It was here, in 1974, that N.C. State beat Maryland in an epic game many consider the best in ACC history. That game involved Thompson, Towe and Burleson on the Wolfpack end but also Lucas, Elmore and McMillan for Maryland. Either of those teams would sweep right through here this weekend.

More recently, the Terps have played some incredible games with Duke in the regular season, but ACC titles have been sparse. In fact, Maryland has only three – in 1958, 1984 and 2004.

This Maryland team is 17-14 overall and 9-9 in league play. Not bad, but hardly what the league has expected of the Terps. Maryland showed some moxie on the final game of the regular season, stunning Virginia in overtime.

Last year, though, the Terps had a terrific run here, paced by amazing play by Dez Wells. The Terps beat Wake Forest 75-62 in the first round, upset Duke 83-74 in the second and then barely lost to UNC 79-76.

Could another run be ahead? The Terps open today against Florida State, another league team that has seen better days.

UH OH: One of the challenges when covering the ACC Tournament is, well, there's too much food. In fact, way too much.

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Media members are provided lunch and dinner at the tournament and there are snacks galore. As soon as the Dove bars come out, the media frenzy begins.

The weakness for this particular correspondent is popcorn. Yeah, we know: #firstworldmediaproblems. But if you're trying to keep from being a contestant on "The Biggest Loser," a media room in March is not the place to be.

Then again, fresh popcorn and basketball is hard to beat.

NCAA HOPES: While the ACC remains an elite basketball league, the conference hasn't put a team in the Final Four since 2010. That's the year Duke beat Butler in an amazing championship game.

This year, Syracuse, Duke and Virginia are all contenders, but you don't look at any of those teams and go, Whoa, there's a winner. If you're looking to turn in a billion-dollar bracket, you probably aren't picking the ACC all the way.

Syracuse may have some advantages. There are first-round games in nearby Buffalo and the East Regional is at Madison Square Garden, where the ACC plays often.

Duke, of course, is also quite happy to be in New York, and there are first-round games in Raleigh.

Virginia has had a terrific season, winning the league outright for the first time since 1981, but teams with so little NCAA experience usually don't make deep runs.

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