It appeared, at least for a few seconds, that North Carolina guard Joel Berry had forced overtime against Miami with a 3-pointer in the closing 5 seconds on Tuesday.
Then Ja’Quan Newton took a pass, raced just beyond half court and launched a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer — and the Tar Heels — to spoil senior night for Berry.
Newton’s only 3-pointer lifted the Hurricanes to a 91-88 win against ninth-ranked North Carolina, snapping the Tar Heels’ six-game winning streak in epic fashion.
Miami (21-8, 10-7 ACC) led by as many as 16 points and used a balanced offense to counter every time North Carolina (22-8, 11-6) attempted to make a second-half comeback.
With Miami leading by 3, North Carolina guard Cameron Johnson was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining. The usually reliable free-throw shooter made his first 2 attempts, but he came up short on the last one and failed to tie the score.
Berry led all scorers with 31 points, but it wasn’t enough to offset six Miami players who scored in double figures.
Committing too many turnovers
North Carolina committed 8 turnovers in a 78-74 win at Syracuse last Wednesday.
The Tar Heels had 7 turnovers in the first half against Miami, and they continued to be uncharacteristically careless after the break with 6 more in the second.
The Hurricanes took advantage of the mistakes, leading to fast-break opportunities and keeping the Tar Heels from cutting into the lead for much of the game.
Berry and Theo Pinson each committed 3 turnovers, which was atypical for two of the Tar Heels’ more reliable seniors.
Miami had its share of turnovers with 10, but the Hurricanes made up for them with their strong shooting. They drained 50 percent of their 3-point shots (11 of 22), made 54.8 percent of their shots from the floor and missed only 1 of their 13 free-throw attempts.
Relying on Cameron Johnson
Johnson made a jumper, a 3-pointer and then an inside basket within the game’s first 7 minutes, showing early on that the North Carolina guard was in a rhythm.
Playing more aggressively and looking for his shot, Johnson came off the bench and scored 11 of the Tar Heels’ first 23 points. He finished with 20 points and 5 rebounds, helping to make up for quiet performances from guard Kenny Williams and forward Sterling Manley.
Johnson scored 6 points against Syracuse, but he emerged as a much-needed scorer on a night when North Carolina’s offense appeared out of sync at times.
Johnson drained 3 of 5 3-point attempts and finished 7 of 10 from the floor. But his missed free throw in the final minute proved costly.
Stopping Ebuka Izundu
Miami center Ebuka Izundu had a bit of a homecoming, and the Charlotte native made the most of it in the first half.
The 6-foot-10 junior entered Tuesday averaging 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, but he surpassed that in the first half while scoring 12 points and grabbing 5 rebounds.
North Carolina had few answers early on for slowing down Izundu, who played more like a dominant big man than a backup who had scored 4 points or fewer in two of his previous three games.
He had a stretch midway through the first half in which he scored 9 consecutive points, helping the Hurricanes rally from their slow start to take a 28-21 lead. He attacked the basket, used his size in the paint and got easy baskets on layups and dunks.
Izundu was held scoreless in the second half, but he did enough damage before halftime to give Miami the momentum.