GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Erik Swoope scored 14 points and hit the go-ahead basket with 2:42 left to help Miami beat Virginia Tech 57-53 in Wednesday’s first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Rion Brown scored 15 points to lead the 10th-seeded Hurricanes (17-15), who hit four free throws in the final 8 seconds to hang on against the last-place Hokies (9-22). Miami shot just 39 percent but the reigning tournament champion did just enough to advance, hitting 16 of 19 free throws.
Swoope was credited with a block on Jarell Eddie under the basket when Eddie beat him to an offensive rebound after a missed free throw in the final seconds. Swoope got the rebound and hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to seal it.
Miami advanced to Thursday’s second round to face seventh-seeded North Carolina State and league player of the year T.J. Warren.
A year ago, Miami came to Greensboro with its first ACC regular-season title and left with a three-game run to the tournament title and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. But star Shane Larkin and just about the rest of that team departed after the year, leaving behind a group with just four returning scholarship players to go with nine newcomers.
At least returnees Swoope — who threw down two crowd-wowing dunks in the first half — and Brown stepped forward Wednesday.
Eddie finished with 16 points to lead the 15th-seeded Hokies, who closed a miserable second year filled with injuries and ugly losses under coach James Johnson. They shot 40 percent, but went just 6-for-23 (26 percent) after halftime.
Virginia Tech finished last with a 2-16 league record, though both wins came against the Hurricanes. Virginia Tech won the first 61-60 in overtime on Dec. 8, with Eddie hitting the go-ahead jumper with 19 seconds left to cap a 24-point outing. Then the Hokies ended a 10-game skid by beating the Hurricanes 52-45 at home on Feb. 15, with Miami shooting 26 percent overall.
They had every chance to take this one as well, with Swoope’s go-ahead basket standing as Miami’s final field goal. But Virginia Tech went cold from 3-point range after a strong start, taking a 52-51 lead on Eddie’s 3 at the 3:22 mark only to see Swoope answer on the ensuing possession.
Virginia Tech lost 17 of 18 to close the year — all since Jan. 1 — and has lost 30 of 36 ACC regular-season games under Johnson.