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Ryan Craig

A comeback takes two

Posted March 10, 2011

In every great he said-she said debate - one where both sides swear they’re right and the other is completely wrong - the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.

In much the same vein, after every great sports comeback people want to hammer the once-leading team for blowing a lead or laud the side that came back for exhibiting such poise in the face of imminent defeat.

The truth is, any great comeback takes a combination of both: one team has to unravel to some degree while the other has to capitalize on that opportunity.

Thursday afternoon’s first-round ACC Tournament game between Miami and Virginia had just that – a winning, or losing depending on which team you root for, combination of ineptitude from one side and opportunism from the other.

Here is how the play-by-play looked from the final minute of Miami’s you-wouldn’t-believe-it-unless-you-saw-it, 69-62 win over Virginia Thursday, starting with the Mustapha Farrakhan free throw that put the Cavaliers up 53-43 with 42 seconds left in the game:

:42 left – Farrakhan makes free throw – UVa leads, 53-43
:34 left – Miami’s Durand Scott hits three-point shot – UVa leads, 53-46
:31 left – Virginia’s Sammy Zeglinski misses back-to-back front ends of a one-and-one
:24 left – Malcolm Grant hits a three – UVa leads, 53-49
:21 left – Zeglinski turnover in the backcourt
:19 left – Julian Gamble dunks – UVa leads, 53-51
:15 left – Virginia’s Jontel Evans turns the ball over in the backcourt
:13 left – Durand Scott makes layup – game tied at 53

Total game time necessary to make the comeback: 29 seconds

Virginia’s 10-point lead was gone in less than the time it takes to watch your favorite commercial.

Clearly, Miami was forcing the issue with full court pressure, but it’s not like Virginia executed down the stretch.

Zeglinski, a near-80% free throw shooter last season, cost his team a shot at four points by missing the front end of two one-and-one trips to the line.

Surely, Virginia was choking.

On the other hand, Miami took exactly two three-point shots during the comeback and made both.

Obviously, Miami was clutch.
Two Virginia turnovers led directly to four more Hurricanes points.

Naturally, that’s a poor job of breaking the press by the Cavaliers – or was it phenomenal inbounds and full-court press execution by Frank Haith’s Miami team?

Depending on who you talk to or which story you read, you’ll either remember this day as the one that Miami notched an improbable comeback or Virginia choked away an almost sure ACC Tournament win.

As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
 

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