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FINAL FOUR! MBB Rallies Past Second-Seeded Texas, 88-81

FINAL FOUR! MBB Rallies Past Second-Seeded Texas, 88-81

by Alex Schwartz

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Facing a 13-point second-half deficit Sunday night at the T-Mobile Center, the fifth-seeded University of Miami men’s basketball team came all the way back to take down second-seeded Texas, 88-81, and reach the Final Four for the first time in program history.

No. 16/15 Miami (29-7, 15-5 ACC) overcome sensational 3-point shooting by No. 5/7 Texas with a blistering 59.2 clip from the field of its own. Fifth-year senior guard Jordan Miller paced the Midwest Region champions with a game-high 27 points on perfect shooting from the floor and the line.

The Hurricanes got off to a fast start and raced out to a 7-0 lead after just two minutes. The two sides exchanged baskets and then Texas (29-9, 12-6 B12) went on a 9-0 run in 2:37 to go in front, 11-9, with 14:23 on the clock.

After starting 9-of-21 from the floor, the Longhorns made eight of their final 10 shots of the half and built an eight-point edge, 45-37, entering the locker room. Texas shot 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from 3-point range in the opening frame and held Miami to just a 2-of-3 (66.7 percent) ledger, though the Hurricanes did go 16-of-25 (64.0 percent) overall.

The Longhorns hit four of their first five shots to open the frame and went up by a dozen, 53-41, with 17:24 to go. They pushed the advantage to a game-high 13, 62-49, with 14:24 after hitting their ninth 3-pointer on just 17 attempts, while Miami was just 2-of-4 at the other end.

The Hurricanes, though, did not go away and used a 9-0 run in 2:24 to go ahead, 73-72, with 5:26 remaining. After Texas’ 10th 3-pointer of the night, Miami scored the next four points to go up by two, 77-75, with 3:57 to play.

Miami extended its margin to six, 85-79, with 23 seconds left and the Longhorns never got any closer than four, as the Hurricanes claimed the seven-point win. The victors shot 13-of-14 from the stripe in the last four minutes, including 7-of-8 in the last 34 ticks.

The Hurricanes shot 29-of-49 from the field, posting a clip of at least 54.0 percent in each half. They also went 28-of-32 (87.5 percent) from the line to counteract the 2-of-8 (25.0 percent) mark from beyond the arc.

Miller’s 27 points, his most in two years as a Hurricane and tied for the fourth-most in program history in NCAA Tournament play, came on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and a 13-of-13 mark from the line. Sophomore guard Wooga Poplar totaled 16 points, shooting 6-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 at the stripe, and added a career-high four assists to lead Miami.

Third-year sophomore guard Nijel Pack, the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Most Outstanding Player, tallied 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong added 15 points, while third-year sophomore forward Norchad Omier amassed 11 points and nine rebounds despite foul trouble.

Graduate student guard Marcus Carr paced Texas with 17 points and six assists, but Miami limited him to 6-of-15 shooting. Senior forward Timmy Allen recorded 16 points before fouling out, while graduate student guard Sir’Jabari Rice notched 15.

The Hurricanes will now play fourth-seeded Connecticut, ranked No. 10/12 nationally, Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET in the Final Four, live on CBS from NRG Stadium in Houston.

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

– In addition to Pack earning Midwest Region MOP distinction, Miller and Wong both claimed All-Region Team accolades.
– Texas started 4-of-7 from beyond the arc through 10 minutes and 7-of-13 through 18 minutes, while Miami did not even attempt a 3-pointer until 7:34 remained in the half and did not hit one until the clock showed 6:59.
– The Longhorns registered 14 assists on 17 made field goals in the first half of action.
– Miami moved to 15-11 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 11-5 under head coach Jim Larrañaga, 6-4 as a lower seed, 4-1 as the fifth seed, 12-9 as a single-digit seed, 2-2 versus second seeds, 7-7 against single-digit seeds, 1-0 in 2/5 games, 2-0 in Missouri, 1-1 in the Elite Eight, 2-3 against Big 12 teams and 1-1 versus Texas.
– Larrañaga now owns 725 victories in his 39-year career, passing Ray Meyer for sole possession of the No. 30 spot on the all-time wins list (min. five years at a Division I school).
– Both of Larrañaga’s Elite Eight victories as a head coach have come on March 26, as his No. 11-seeded George Mason team beat top-seeded UConn exactly 17 years ago in Washington, D.C.
– Larrañaga is the second coach ever, per Stats Perform, to take two different schools to the Final Four while seeded fifth or lower, joining Larry Brown, who did so as an eighth seed at UCLA in 1980 (later vacated) and as a sixth seed at Kansas in 1988.
– Additionally, Larrañaga is now one of just nine active DI head coaches with multiple Final Fours, joining John Calipari, Mark Few, Bob Huggins, Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Rick Pitino, Kelvin Sampson and Bill Self.
– Per ESPN, Larrañaga is the third coach to take two different DI programs to the Final Four for the first time, alongside Hugh Durham (Florida State in 1972, Georgia in 1983) and Forddy Anderson (Bradley in 1950, Michigan State in 1957).
– Since 2019, no team has played five-plus games in the NCAA Tournament and posted a better winning percentage than Miami’s .875 mark (7-1), per Stats Perform.
– Miami is the first ACC team with two Elite Eights and a Final Four in a two-year span since North Carolina in 2016 (runner-up) and 2017 (champion).
– The only prior occurrences of an ACC team earning at least two Elite Eights and one Final Four in a two-year period are Duke from 1988-92 (five Final Fours in a row), North Carolina in 1997-98, Duke in 1998-99, Maryland in 2001-02, North Carolina from 2007-09 (Elite Eight followed by two Final Fours) and North Carolina in 2016-17.
– The Hurricanes’ 29 victories tie the highest mark in program history, equaling the total during the 2012-13 campaign.
– This is the first time in program history Miami has defeated top-five opponents in back-to-back contests.
– This is the second time the Hurricanes have ever recorded three top-10 wins in the same season, joining the 1998-99 campaign.
– The Hurricanes have scored 63-plus points in all 36 games they have played this season, one of just four teams—the others are Marshall (32), Toledo (35) and Youngstown State (34)—to do so in every outing this year, per Stats Perform.
– Miami is the first team ever, per Stats Perform, to have three different players score 25-plus points in three straight NCAA Tournament contests without any player doing so twice in that span: Wong had 27 against Indiana, Pack had 26 against Houston and Miller had 27 against Texas.
– Omier has grabbed 36.1 percent of Miami’s rebounds thus far in the NCAA Tournament, the fifth-highest mark for any player entering the Final Four in the last 60 years, per Stats Perform, as he trails only Dayton’s Don May in 1967 (42.4), UCLA’s Lew Alcindor in 1968 (38.3), Houston’s Elvin Hayes in 1968 (36.5) and Jacksonville’s Artis Gilmore in 1970 (36.4).
– The Hurricanes own 10 wins this year—and 23 in the last two seasons combined—when facing a second-half deficit.
– Miami is now 11-4 in the last 15 games it has trailed at halftime, a stretch that goes back to 2/9/22 against Georgia Tech.
– The Hurricanes have four victories this season—and nine in the last two campaigns combined—when trailing by 11-plus points.
– Miami is 9-8 in the last 17 contests in which it has trailed by double digits, dating all the way back to an 11/26/21 matchup with North Texas in Kissimmee, Fla.
– The Hurricanes snapped a five-game skid—that accounts for all but two of their defeats this season—when losing the rebounding battle and moved to 3-6 in such affairs.
– Miami’s 88 points marked its second-most ever in an NCAA Tournament contest, trailing only the 89 in the Sweet 16 win over Houston on 3/24/23.
– The three highest-scoring NCAA Tournament performances in program history have come in Miami’s last three outings: 85 versus Indiana in the Round of 32, 89 versus Houston in the Sweet 16 and 88 versus Texas in the Elite Eight.
– Miami’s 59.2 percent clip from the field set a program record in an NCAA Tournament contest, surpassing the previous mark of 55.3 percent (21-of-38) versus Wichita State on 3/19/16.
– The Hurricanes’ 28 made free throws tied their highest mark in NCAA Tournament action, matching their figure against Missouri on 3/14/02.
– Miami’s 32 attempts from the stripe equaled its third-highest total ever in the NCAA Tournament.
– The 87.5 free-throw percentage marked the second-highest ledger by the Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament, trailing only the 89.5 percent (17-of-19) figure against Ohio State on 3/19/00.
– Miller’s 7-of-7 mark is the best by a Hurricane in the NCAA Tournament and he now owns the only two instances of a Hurricane making six-plus shots without a miss in the event, as he went 6-of-6 versus Iowa State on 3/25/22.
– Miller’s 13 free-throw attempts matched the program record in NCAA Tournament action, tying the mark set by Sheldon McClellan on 3/17/16 versus Buffalo.
– Miller’s 13-of-13 ledger from the line is the best by a Hurricane in NCAA Tournament play and just the second time a Miami player has hit seven-plus free throws without a miss, joining Jack McClinton’s 11-of-11 performance against St. Mary’s on 3/21/08.
– The Longhorns became just the fourth team to amass 80 points against Miami in the NCAA Tournament, with their 81 ranking as the third-highest such total.
– Texas’ 30 made field goals tied for the second-most by a Miami opponent in NCAA Tournament play, matching the mark by Michigan State on 3/17/17 and trailing only the 32 by Villanova on 3/24/16.
– Texas finished with 20 assists, the most ever by a Hurricane foe in the NCAA Tournament, eclipsing the prior top mark of 19 set by Loyola Chicago on 3/15/18.
– Wong passed Tim James (1995-99) for sole possession of fourth place on the program’s all-time free-throw attempts list with 518.
– Wong passed both Anthony Lawrence II (2015-19) and Brian Asbury (2005-09) to enter a tie with Davon Reed (2013-17) for fourth place on the Hurricanes’ all-time games played leaderboard with 131.
– Wong surpassed Gene Stage (1956-57) and Mike Wittman (1966-67) and Wittman again (1965-66) for ninth place on the Hurricanes’ single-season made free throws leaderboard with 148.

– Wong moved past Rion Brown (2013-14), Durand Scott (2010-11) and Guillermo Diaz (2005-06) to enter a tie with Charlie Moore (2021-22) for sixth place on Miami’s single-season minutes played list with 1,202.
– Wong and Miller passed five players to enter a four-way tie, alongside Wong last year and Kenny Kadji (2012-13), for fifth place on the Hurricanes’ single-season starts list with 36.
– Miller tied/eclipsed Wong (2021-22) for fourth place on the program’s single-season minutes played list with 1,256.
– Omier passed Constantin Popa (1992-93) and tied Tonye Jekiri (2015-16) for co-fourth place on the Hurricanes’ single-season personal fouls list with 107.
– Pack eclipsed four players to take over ninth place on the program’s single-season 3-point attempts leaderboard with 209.
– Miller, per CBS Sports, is the first player with 27-plus points in an NCAA Tournament game on perfect shooting from the field and the line since Duke’s Christian Laettner against Kentucky on 3/28/92.
– Per Stats Perform, there are 134,377 instances of a DI player attempting 20 total shots (field goals or free throws) in the last 20 seasons, with Miller the first to make every single such attempt, while no other NBA, WNBA or DI women’s basketball player has achieved the feat in that time either.
– Miller, whose double-digit scoring performance was his 100th as a collegian and 50th as a Hurricane, set a career high with 13 made free throws, eclipsing his prior top mark of 11 against Loyola (MD) on 11/19/19 during his time at George Mason.
– Miller posted the fourth-most made free throws without a miss in program history, trailing just the 16 by Jack McClinton on 3/7/09 versus NC State, the 14 by Wong on 2/19/20 at Virginia Tech and the 14 by Chris Lykes on 1/12/19 against Wake Forest.