CLEMSON, S.C. — No. 3 Miami kept its perfect Atlantic Coast Conference season intact, no matter how bad things may have gone against Clemson.
Kenny Kadji had 12 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in the Hurricanes’ 45-43 victory Sunday night.
Their poor shooting, bad turnovers and ugly execution that showed themselves at times against the Tigers?
“All that is irrelevant,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We won the game. Time to move on.”
And they’ll do it at 12-0 in the ACC, the hottest league start since Duke went 16-0 on the way to the conference title in 1998-99. Miami (21-3) will likely supplant Duke — which lost at Maryland on Saturday night — as the country’s second-ranked team when the new poll is released Monday.
With six games remaining, the Hurricanes hold a three-game edge over second-place Duke in the ACC as they chase their first league basketball championship.
“All we’re thinking about is being 13-0,” said Durand Scott, held to 3 points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Miami’s single-minded focus on the moment paid off at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Hurricanes were down 42-38 on Jordan Roper’s steal and coast-to-coast layup with 2:00 to go. Clemson got the ball back moments later when Shane Larkin’s 3-point try rattled in and out and the large crowd could smell the upset.
Instead, Miami dug in down the stretch to escape with its 13th straight victory.
K.J. McDaniels missed a 1-and-1 try for Clemson and Miami’s Rion Brown drove lane for a basket and got fouled, his three-point play drawing Miami within a point.
McDaniel made one of two foul shots before Kadji hit an open 3 to put Miami in front for good. Rod Hall tried to answer back for the Tigers (13-12, 5-8), but Miami’s Trey McKinney Jones drew the offensive foul with 13 seconds left.
After McKinney Jones made a free throw, Hall again drove to back, but his layup try didn’t go. McDaniels missed a tip in attempt as time ran out. Miami’s players hugged each other in relief when it was over.
Larranaga said it would’ve been easy for his team to lose composure when the shots wouldn’t fall. “But we were able to stick together and that makes a huge difference,” he said.
The Tigers endured their second straight home heartbreaker. They were beaten 58-57 by North Carolina State on Scott Wood’s 3-pointer at the end on Feb. 10.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said his team continues to miss makeable shots. “I thought we got the ball in great places on a lot of possessions, but you need to score to win,” he said.
It was far from the prettiest game the Hurricanes have played in the breakout season. They scored their fewest points this year, shot under 26 percent in the first half and saw their high-scoring guard duo of Scott and Larkin go just 3 of 16 from the field.
None of that made a difference for Kadji, who easily made the decisive shot.
“We’re going to fight until the clock is finished,” Kadji said. “That’s something coach always tells us. You want to play hard and try to win.”
Freshman Jordan Roper had a career-high 19 points for the Tigers. Devin Booker added 10 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth game this season with double-figure points and rebounds.
Scott shot 1 of 8 and scored three points — he came in averaging 14 per game — but grabbed 11 rebounds, one shy of his career high.
“You’ve got to find other ways to help the team,” Scott said.
Miami came in as the first ACC team to go 11-0 since North Carolina in 2000-01. The Tar Heels, who were No. 1 and had won 18 in a row at the time, saw the streak end at Littlejohn Coliseum in a stunning upset — the Tigers lost the previous game by 34 to North Carolina State and their next one by 32 to Wake Forest.
The Hurricanes looked as though they wanted to take this one over early, taking an 8-2 lead on Jones’ 3-pointer with 11:37 to go. The Tigers, though, shook off a slow start — they opened 1 of 17 from the floor and missed 15 straight shots — with a 13-4 run to move in front 15-12 after Booker’s strong, one-handed jam.
Miami found its stride late in the half to pull ahead 18-16 on Brown’s jumper.
Neither team was all that crisp shooting in the opening half. Miami hit just 25.9 percent (7 of 27) while Clemson finished at 23.3 percent (7 of 30). The teams really struggled from way outside, combining to go 2 of 21 from 3-point range.
No. 4 MICHIGAN 79, PENN STATE 71
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Trey Burke scored a season-high 29 points and freshman Glen Robinson III matched a career high with 21 to help Michigan bounce back from an embarrassing defeat with a victory over Penn State.
The Wolverines (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) had dropped three of their previous four games, including a 23-point loss Tuesday night at No. 8 Michigan State, and needed a half to shake off their slump. Michigan trailed for much of the first 20 minutes against a last-place team without a conference win.
The Nittany Lions (8-17, 0-13) led by as many as eight in the first half.
They went ahead 7-plus minutes into the game and had the lead until Burke made a game-tying, off-balance fadeaway with 55 seconds left in the first half.
No. 9 ARIZONA 68, UTAH 64
SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Lyons scored 18 points, freshman Brandon Ashley added 10 in a reserve role and Arizona defeated Utah to snap a two-game skid.
Arizona led by as many as 13 early in the second half only to see the Utes respond with a 14-3 run to tie it at 51 with 7:28 remaining on Jason Washburn’s tip-in.
No. 12 LOUISVILLE 59, SOUTH FLORIDA 41
TAMPA, Fla. — Russ Smith scored 15 points and Louisville stayed within a game of first place in the Big East with a lopsided victory over South Florida.
Smith, Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware did all the scoring for the Cardinals during a 22-3 run in the first half. Smith finished with six rebounds and four assists for Louisville (21-5, 9-4), which has won four of five.
No. 20 WISCONSIN 71, No. 13 OHIO STATE 49
MADISON, Wis. — Ben Brust and Jared Berggren each scored 15 points as Wisconsin routed Ohio State.
Sam Dekker came off the bench to score 13 for the Badgers (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten), and Traevon Jackson added 10.