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So Sweet! MBB Knocks off Second-Seeded Auburn to Reach Round of 16

So Sweet! MBB Knocks off Second-Seeded Auburn to Reach Round of 16

by Alex Schwartz

GREENVILLE, S.C. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team took down second-seed and top-10-ranked Auburn, 79-61, Sunday night to earn the fourth Sweet 16 berth in program history.

No. 10-seeded Miami (25-10, 14-6 ACC) led the Tigers, ranked No. 8/7, from start to finish at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, holding the advantage for 39-plus minutes in a spectacular display at both ends of the floor.

Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong scored a game-high 21 points for the Hurricanes, who are headed to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last decade.

“I can’t be happier for my guys. They did such a fantastic job of executing the game plan,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said after leading his team to the Sweet 16 for the third time in his 11-year tenure. “We just kept plugging away. Our defense is about pressure, keeping pressure on the opponent and trying to force turnovers. These guys did a fantastic job of doing that.”

The Hurricanes made six of their first nine shots, while Auburn (28-6, 15-3 SEC) opened 1-of-4 with four turnovers, helping Miami grab a 13-4 edge after just 4:19 of action.

The Tigers pulled back within five, but Miami regained its nine-point edge, 23-14, with 7:27 on the clock. At that point, the Hurricanes had five steals and zero turnovers, while holding Auburn to 5-of-19 shooting.

Miami eventually took a one-point lead, 33-32, into the locker room after the Tigers scored the final five points of the half. It marked the smallest lead of the entire session for the Hurricanes, who led for the final 19:28 of the frame.

Through 20 minutes, Miami held the Tigers to 38.7 percent shooting (12-of-31), including a 2-of-10 mark on 3-pointers after they missed their first seven attempts.

The Hurricanes scored eight straight points to begin the second half, taking a 41-32 edge with 17:35 to play. Miami went on to take a 14-point advantage, 64-50, with 7:17 left after posting an 11-4 run in just 3:12.

Auburn answered with six straight points in 80 seconds to make it 64-56 with 5:55 remaining, but Miami used an 8-2 run to go back up by 14, 72-58, with just 2:13 to play. That eventually became a game-ending 15-5 burst, as the Hurricanes won by 18 points, their largest margin of the game. Miami scored the final seven points in the last 73 seconds.

“The second half, we were everywhere. These guys were able to make plays, get to the open court,” Larrañaga said. “Auburn is a very high, up-tempo team but we feel very, very comfortable in that environment, as well. These guys ran for layups and made a lot of really good decisions in the open court. I congratulate all of them.”

Wong’s game-best point total came on 8-of-18 shooting from the field and a 5-of-5 clip at the line, and he added six rebounds. Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty totaled 20 points on a superb 10-of-18 mark, also notching six rebounds, four assists and a game-best four steals. He tied the program record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game and became the third Hurricane with double-digit made field goals in such a contest.

Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore nearly recorded a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, a career-high nine rebounds and a game-best eight assists, adding three steals. Fourth-year junior guard Jordan Miller posted 12 points and three steals.

Sophomore guard KD Johnson and junior forward Jaylin Williams co-led the Tigers with 12 points apiece. Sophomore guard Wendell Green Jr., tallied 11 points and freshman forward Jabari Smith had 10.

Smith, a Second Team All-American and presumptive top-three NBA Draft pick, shot just 3-of-16 from the floor, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range, though he did lead all players with 15 rebounds to log a double-double. Meanwhile, sophomore forward/center Walker Kessler, a Third Team All-American, scored two points and shot 0-of-6 from the floor.

The Hurricanes shot 48.5 percent (32-of-66) from the floor and 80.0 percent (12-of-15) at the line, while limiting Auburn to just a 30.4 percent clip (21-of-69) from the field at the other end, the lowest mark by an opponent this year. En route to posting the second-highest NCAA Tournament point total, Miami set a program record for made field goals in the event.

The Hurricanes opened just 1-of-10 from 3-point range and finished 3-of-15 (20.0 percent), but still outshot the Tigers from deep, as they went 5-of-26 (19.2 percent), the second-lowest ledger by a Miami foe this year.

Miami, which committed only four turnovers and forced 13, registered 10 steals compared to Auburn’s one. That led to a staggering 30-1 edge in fast-break points and 17-2 advantage in points of giveaways for the Hurricanes, who also posted a 48-28 margin in paint points to earn the first NCAA Tournament victory over a top-two seed in program history.

The Hurricanes now head to Chicago, where they play No. 11-seeded Iowa State Friday at 9:45 p.m. ET, live on TBS from the United Center.

To keep up with the University of Miami men’s basketball team on social media, follow @CanesHoops on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES
– The Hurricanes moved to 2-1 all-time against Auburn, including 2-0 at neutral sites, 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament and 1-0 in Larrañaga’s tenure.
– Miami improved to 10-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 6-4 under Larrañaga, 3-3 as a lower seed, 2-0 as the No. 10 seed, 2-1 as a double-digit seed, 1-2 versus second seeds, 4-6 against single-digit seeds, 1-1 in 2/10 games, 2-0 in South Carolina, 4-2 in the second round and 2-0 against SEC teams.
– Larrañaga, who entered the game with the 10th-most victories of any active Division I coach, is now 695-474 in 38 years as a head coach, including 225-140 in 11 seasons at Miami.
– Larrañaga now owns a 5-4 record against SEC teams in his tenure with the Hurricanes, including a 2-0 mark in postseason play and a 2-3 ledger at neutral sites.
– For the 26th time this season, Miami used a starting lineup of McGusty, J. Miller, Moore, Wong and sixth-year redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg.
– Wong now has 1,246 points in his career, passing Mike McCoy (1960-63) and Dwayne Collins (2006-10) to rank No. 23 on the Hurricanes’ all-time scoring list.
– With 1,176 minutes played in 2021-22, Wong moved past five players to take the sixth spot on the program’s single-season leaderboard.
– McGusty now has 613 points on the year, eclipsing Dick Hickox (1959-60) for eighth place on the program’s single-season list with the eighth 600-point total.
– With 218 made field goals in 2021-22, McGusty passed numerous Hurricanes to enter the top 10 on the program’s single-season leaderboard, placing No. 10 and becoming the first Miami player since the turn of the century to be in the top 10.
– McGusty now has 62 steals on the year, passing Angel Rodriguez (2015-16), Angel Rodriguez (2014-15), Vernon Jennings (1998-99) and Robert Hite (2003-04) to place co-sixth on Miami’s single-season list, alongside J. Miller.
– With 1,187 minutes played in 2021-22, McGusty moved past five individuals to take the fourth spot on the program’s single-season leaderboard.
– McGusty and Moore both have 35 starts this year, entering into a tie for fifth place on the program’s single-season leaderboard, alongside Tonye Jekiri (2015-16), Davon Reed (2015-16), Angel Rodriguez (2015-16), Shane Larkin (2012-13) and Durand Scott (2010-11).
– With 161 assists in 2021-22, Moore surpassed Michael Gardner (1992-93) and Angel Rodriguez (2015-16) to take over fifth place on the program’s single-season leaderboard.
– Moore now has 72 steals on the year, passing Jerome Scott (1990-91) and Shane Larkin (2012-13) to place third on Miami’s single-season list, becoming the fourth Hurricane—fifth occurrence—with a 70-steal campaign.
– J. Miller now has 62 steals on the year, passing Robert Hite (2003-04) to place co-sixth on Miami’s single-season list, alongside McGusty.
– With 1,1053 minutes played in 2021-22, J. Miller moved past multiple individuals to enter the top 10, at No. 10, on the program’s single-season leaderboard.
– Miami has 25 wins in a season for the fourth time in program history, all during Larrañaga’s 11-year tenure (2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2021-22).
– The Hurricanes moved to 24-4 this season when scoring 65-plus points, including 21-4 when scoring 70-plus.
– Sunday marked the 15th time this season Miami has posted double-digit steals, including the 12th in the last 21 outings.
– The Hurricanes are now 4-2 against top-25 opponents this season, including 2-2 versus top-10 foes.
– The last time Miami had two 20-point scorers in the same game was 2/12/22 at Wake Forest, when McGusty (22) and Wong (20) both hit that figure.
– Smith is the first Miami opponent to log 15-plus rebounds in a game since North Carolina’s Day’Ron Sharpe had 16 on 1/5/21 in Coral Gables, Fla.
– The last time Miami took back-to-back games against top-25 teams was during the 2016-17 season when it won, 54-48 in overtime, at No. 18/19 Virginia on 2/20/17 and then topped No. 10/11 Duke, 55-50, in Coral Gables.
– Prior to Sunday, the highest-seeded team Miami had defeated in the NCAA Tournament was third-seeded Ohio State on 3/19/00.
– Per ESPN’s Chris Fallica, Miami’s 18-point victory is the second-largest ever for a No. 10-seed over a No. 2-seed, trailing only Nevada’s 19-oint triumph against Gonzaga in 2004.
– According to ESPN Stats & Info, Wong is the first player in program history to score 20-plus points in each of his first two NCAA Tournament outings.
– Wong’s 5-of-5 mark at the free-throw line made him the sixth Hurricane to make five-plus free throws without a miss in the NCAA Tournament.
– McGusty tied the program’s NCAA Tournament single-game record with four steals, tying a mark set five times prior, including by J. Miller and Moore on Friday against USC.
– McGusty’s 10 made field goals equal the second-highest mark ever by a Hurricane in the NCAA Tournament, tying Johnny Hemsley’s total on 3/12/99 against Lafayette and trailing Jack McClinton’s 12 on 3/21/08 versus St. Mary’s.
– With 18 field-goal attempts, McGusty and Wong both tied for the third-most in an NCAA Tournament contest in program history, with the former recording that number for the second straight outing.
– Moore’s eight assists are good for the co-second-most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history, behind just the nine from Shane Larkin on 3/22/13 against Pacific.
– The Hurricanes’ 32 made field goals set a program record in NCAA Tournament action, surpassing the prior top mark of 28 versus St. Mary’s on 3/21/08.
– Miami’s 79 points matched its second-highest total ever in the NCAA Tournament, equaling its figure against Buffalo on 3/17/16 and trailing only its 80-point mark on 3/14/02 against Missouri.
– The Hurricanes’ 66 field-goal attempts rank third in program history in NCAA Tournament play.
– With a 48.5 field-goal percentage, Miami recorded its fifth-best ledger ever in an NCAA Tournament game.
– Miami’s 80.0 free-throw percentage equaled its fifth-highest mark in NCAA Tournament play and marked the seventh time it has reached 80-plus in the event.
– The Hurricanes recorded 19 assists to tie their second-highest ledger ever in the NCAA Tournament, matching the total on 3/19/00 versus Ohio State, behind only the 20 on 3/12/99 against Lafayette.
– Miami’s 10 steals matched the third-highest NCAA Tournament single-game total in program history.
– With six blocked shots, the Hurricanes tied their third-highest total ever in an NCAA Tournament outing.
– Smith’s 15 rebounds are the second-most ever by an opposing player against Miami in the NCAA Tournament, behind only the 16 by Texas’ Damion James on 3/23/08.
– Smith’s three blocks matched the third-highest NCAA Tournament single-game total by a Hurricane foe in the NCAA Tournament, equaling a mark logged six times prior.
– With eight blocked shots, Auburn recorded the highest total ever by a Miami opponent in the NCAA Tournament.
– Auburn’s 69 field-goal attempts are the most ever by a Miami foe in the NCAA Tournament, eclipsing the mark of 61 by both Illinois on 3/24/13 and Missouri on 3/14/02.
– The Tigers’ 26 3-point attempts matched the second-highest total by a Hurricane opponent in the NCAA Tournament, with that figure recorded five times prior.
– Auburn pulled down 47 rebounds, the second-highest NCAA Tournament single-game total by a Miami foe, behind only the 48 by Missouri on 3/14/02.
– The Hurricanes did not commit their first turnover of the game until just 4:29 remained on the first-half clock.
– Miami did not attempt a free throw until exactly three minutes remained in the first half.
– The two teams combined to shoot 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range in the opening half.
– Prior to Auburn shooting 30.4 percent from the floor, the lowest figure by a Miami foe this year was 33.3 percent (20-of-60) by Syracuse on 3/5/22.
– The Tigers’ 19.2 3-point percentage trails only Louisville’s 15.4 percent mark (2-of-13) on 2/16/22 for the lowest mark by a Miami opponent this season.
– Miami’s 30 fast-break points shattered its prior season high of 18, set on three occasions: 1/5/22 against Syracuse, 2/5/22 at Virginia and 3/10/22 against Boston College in the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y.
– Sunday marked the third time this season the Hurricanes did not allow multiple fast-break points, as they conceded zero to Virginia Tech on 2/26/22 and one to Virginia on 2/19/22.
– All five Miami starters finished at least plus-13 on the night, while all five Auburn starters were at least minus-15.
– Wong registered his 24th 20-point showing, including his 10th this season.
– Wong scored in double figures for the 63rd time, including the 30th this year.
– J. Miller tallied double-digit points for the 66th time, including the 16th in 2021-22.
– McGusty logged 20-plus points for the 26th time, including the 20th at Miami and 13th this year.
– McGusty scored double-figure points for the 96th time, including the 68th as a Hurricane and 33rd this season.
– Moore, who eclipsed 400 free-throw attempts as a collegian and tied his season high set one day prior with five makes from the line, recorded double-digit points for the 82nd time, including the 25th this year.
– Moore grabbed five rebounds in the first half alone, already equaling his third-highest mark of the season in a full game and reaching his highest total in a game since notching five on 1/5/22 versus Syracuse.
– Moore’s prior career high in rebounds was eight on 1/11/20 at St. John’s during his DePaul tenure, while his previous top mark this year was seven on 12/12/21 against Fordham in Brooklyn.
– Moore posted his 54th five-assist showing, including his 17th in 2021-22 and the eighth in a row.
– Freshman guard Wooga Poplar notched his second multi-assist outing, alongside his showing against Stetson on 12/20/21.

Miami's postgame presser after the victory over Auburn.