Marcus Georges-Hunt had played the distributor for the entire game, but the decision to put the game in his hands gave the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets the biggest win of Brian Gregory's tenure.
With their matchup with the No. 6 Miami Hurricanes tied, 69-69, Georges-Hunt took possession in the waning seconds and drove to the cup for a game-winning shot.
His first attempt missed, but his second effort went in and gave the Yellow Jackets a thrilling 71-69 victory in front of the stunned Miami crowd as time expired in Coral Gables Wednesday night.
The freshman guard had made just one shot prior his game winner.
Shooting 1-of-5 with two points and six assists prior to the final possession, Georges-Hunt seemed like an unlikely hero.
Leading the charge for Georgia Tech was the inside-out duo of Chris Bolden and Daniel Miller. Bolden torched the Hurricanes for 21 points, and Miller added an additional 17, shooting an efficient 8-of-12 from the field.
However, from the very moment Gregory called a timeout and drew up the final play, it was obvious that Georges-Hunt would hold Georgia Tech’s fate in his hands. And with that fateful shot, the freshman guard-forward once again kept Miami from finishing off its outright capture of the ACC regular-season championship.
The Hurricanes, though they remain likely to finish off the deal on Saturday versus Clemson, have to be crestfallen about the loss. This was their second straight heartbreak—the first coming on the road against Duke last Saturday—and will look like a completely inexplicable loss on their resume.
During the first half, Miami looked like it would skate to an easy home victory.
The Hurricanes went on an 18-3 run midway through the opening 20 minutes, giving them a cushion that they would carry into a 43-32 halftime lead. Guard Shane Larkin was running the offense like a well-oiled machine, setting himself and Kenny Kadji up for consistent buckets inside and out, and Miami looked like it would overwhelm the visiting Yellow Jackets in the second half.
However, it just wasn’t meant to be for Jim Larranaga’s squad.
Though they kept the lead hovering around double digits initially after the break, it was obvious the Hurricanes offense could not find its rhythm. They turned the ball over at critical points, allowing Georgia Tech to storm back into the contest with quick-strike possessions that shifted the game’s trajectory.
When the Yellow Jackets took the lead at 67-66 with 3:40 remaining—their first since 14-11 in the first half—you could feel the air coming out of Miami’s student section. Marcus Georges-Hunt’s heroics will be what we hear about in the coming days, but it’s Miami’s inability to finish the job that should be the true story.
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde says what's on everyone's mind regarding the Hurricanes' tournament-seeding hopes:
HLA Miami, blowing sizable lead at home and trail Ga Tech by one, late. Doesn't help the #1 seed profile— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 7, 2013
ESPN's Jay Williams expresses a similar sentiment:
And Miami just lost to Georgia Tech at home. This really will hurt their seeding but they still have a 1 game lead on Duke w/ Clemson left.— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) March 7, 2013
The loss also ends a 13-game home winning streak for the Hurricanes, per ESPN's Numbers Never Lie Twitter feed:
Miami had won 13 straight home games. Georgia Tech just put a wrench in #14 with Marcus Georges-Hunt's last-second putback.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) March 7, 2013
ESPN's Andy Katz was shocked by the result and noted that Miami now has an absolutely critical matchup versus Clemson coming this weekend:
Stunning. Georgia Tech beats Miami on a put back. 'Canes now must win against Clemson to win ACC out right. Goodbye to No 1 seed.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) March 7, 2013
Zach Klein of WSB-TV in Atlanta congratulates Gregory on his first win over a Top 25 opponent:
Congrats to #GaTech Brian Gregory - 1st win over top-25 team. Marcus Georges-Hunt beats #6 Miami at buzzer— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) March 7, 2013
While congratulations are in order for Georgia Tech and its coaching staff, one has to wonder what this means for Miami's tournament viability. The Hurricanes have now lost three of four games and look mighty vulnerable heading into tournament season.