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Virginia defeats Miami in a slugfest, 73-68

The Cavaliers advanced to their second ACC championship game in three years with a bruising victory over the Hurricanes.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The #4 Virginia basketball team (26-6) won a hard-fought victory over #11 Miami (25-7) Friday night in the semifinal of the ACC Tournament, 73-68. The win helped bolster the Cavaliers' chance at a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Malcolm Brogdon led all scorers with 24 points including a pair of late free throws to ice the victory. Brogdon faced withering defensive pressure at times in the second half, and only connected on 6 of his 15 shots from the floor. London Perrantes chipped in 11 points, and Marial Shayok added 10 points from the bench, but missed a pair of key free throws with under 30 seconds to go, and then fouled out on the ensuing defensive stand.

Ja'Quan Newton was Miami's top scorer with 19 points.

Twice the Hoos let big leads nearly slip away at the end of the half. Virginia looked as if they would go into the half time with a comfortable cushion as they used an efficient offense to push their lead over the Canes to 11 with less than two minutes to go. Miami, however, closed the first half with three straight baskets to cut Virginia's half-time advantage to 5.

Virginia slowly built a 13 point lead with 2:05 remaining in the game, only to see the margin dwindle to a 4 point lead with 21 seconds left.  Miami cut the lead to 3 in the closing seconds, but Brogdon hit a pair of free throws to effectively end the Canes' comeback.

Virginia advances to play North Carolina in the ACC Championship Saturday night at 9:00.  The Tar Heels will face a formidable challenge to the Hoos, as UNC did not exert much effort in blasting Notre Dame, 78-47, while Virginia  players were clearly exhausted by the tough game against the Hurricanes.