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Courtside blog: GT 78, UM 68 (F)

ATLANTA -- I'll be here providing updates tonight from UM's next must-win game, against Georgia Tech.

It's supposed to be Senior Night here, but it might as well really be empty seat night. Alexander Memorial Coliseum is pretty empty. Hard to blame Yellow Jackets fans. Georgia Tech is 1-12 in conference play this year and there really hasn't been a whole to get excited about.

I stopped the Fifth Street Ribs & Blues restaurants nearby about three hours before tip-off. The cook chatted me about tonight's game and asked me why I was bothering to show up. Yikes. The ribs at least were very good. 

If you want to follow the game live you can listen to Joe Zagacki with my friend Josh Darrow on WQAM, spend the $5.99 on ACCSelect (it didn't work for me before) or follow it on the ACC Gametracker.

> By the way, in case you missed it, former Canes safety Ed Reed gave the team a pep talk before they left for Atlanta. Coach Frank Haith has used ministers, priests, and former Canes James Jones for a pre-game pep talk in the past. But Reed is probably the best in the business.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS

> Horrible start for UM. They've fallen behind 10-2 with a lack of any sort of execution on offense and they've been lazy on defense. Haith just let his team have it, slamming his clipboard and dropping a few "adult words" during the timeout. Looks like GT is going to try and let Lewis Clinch set the tone with his outside shot. He's nailed two three pointers early and has six points. 

> UM started the game 2 of 15 from the field before Jimmy Graham hit a jump hook with 11:32 to play in the first half. Clinch has another three-pointer and now has nine points. Miami looks totally out of sync and offense. Jack McClinton got pulled at about the 14 minute mark and has not returned yet. He took one shot and missed. Haith told me McClinton practiced for the first time since spraining his knee against Boston College on Tuesday. But it was a light practice.

> The Canes used some defense to key a 6-0 run to cut into Georgia Tech's lead at 16-12 with 9:21 to go. But the Yellow Jackets just went on a 7-0 run to negate it and go back up by double-digits. 

> Jack McClinton is supposed to be the best three-point shooter in the league. But tonight, it looks like Lewis Clinch is that guy. He's hit five three-pointers, each has negated UM rallies.

> Clinch now has 17 points. McClinton finally broke through with his first field goal with 4:35 left. UM simply hasn't been able to cut into Georgia Tech's double digit lead. The slow start has put them in a huge hole. 

> Canes are down 16 points at the break. Lewis Clench has 20 points. UM shot 36 percent in the first half. Those NCAA Tournament hopes are officially dangling by a thread. 

> FYI, the 16-point halftime deficit is the largest UM has faced this season. The largest comeback for UM this season was from 17 down to Maryland with 12:30 to go in the game. Miami won 62-60.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS

> The first 52 seconds of the half were exactly what you wanted to see if you were a Canes fan. James Dews hits an open jumper, Miami traps on defense, Dwayne Collins gets a steal and Jack McClinton makes a three-pointer before Paul Hewett calls timeout. GT leads 41-30 with 19:08 left.

> So much for that great start. Lewis Clinch and the Yellow Jackets came right back with a 5-0 run and their lead is back up to 47-33 with 15:55 left. Miami has completely dominated the boards today. The Canes simply haven't been able to put the ball through the hoop. 

> GT extended its lead to 19 points on an Iman Shumpert steal and dunk with 14:34 to play. Then, Miami went on a quick 9-0 run to pull within 52-42 with 13:19 left. Miami had a chance to trim it closer, but James Dews missed a long three-pointer.

> It's just been another frustrating night for McClinton. He picked up his third foul trying to create a jump shot and foul when he got his defender in the air. Instead, he got called for charging. 

> The Canes are not going quietly. After falling behind by 14 again, UM used a 7-0 run and a few gutsy baskets from Brian Asbury to trim Georgia Tech's lead to 58-51 with 8:37 to play. They need one more big run to really get back into the game. 

> You can never say a team with Jack McClinton is done. But with 5:14 left and UM down 12, the Canes looked overcooked. 

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