MBB Falls to Connecticut, 72-59, in Final Four

MBB Falls to Connecticut, 72-59, in Final Four

by Alex Schwartz

HOUSTON – The unquestionable greatest season in University of Miami men’s basketball history came to an end Saturday night with a 72-59 setback against Connecticut in the Final Four at NRG Stadium.

Fourth-year junior guard Isaiah Wong scored a team-high 15 points for No. 16/15 Miami (29-8, 15-5 ACC) in front of 73,860 fans in the school’s first NCAA semifinal appearance ever.

The fourth-seeded Huskies, ranked No. 10/12 nationally, raced out to a 9-0 lead in the first 3:06 after making three of four 3-point attempts, including a 2-of-2 mark from junior forward Adama Sanogo, who had 17 makes all season. They upped their 3-point mark to 4-of-7, while the fifth-seeded Hurricanes opened just 1-of-12 from the field at the other end, creating a 14-4 Connecticut (30-8, 13-7 BE) edge through seven minutes.

Miami soon thereafter went on a 12-3 surge in just 3:35, leveling the contest at 19 with 8:20 on the first-half timer. However, it then missed its next eight shots in a 1-of-13 stretch, as Connecticut posted a 13-2 burst in 6:24 to go up by 11 points, 32-21, with 1:33 left in the frame. After a Miami 3-pointer, the Huskies scored the final five points of half, ending it with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to take a 13-point edge, 37-24, into the locker room.

Connecticut shot 50.0 percent (14-of-28) overall and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from long range in the first half, while Miami posted 25.0 percent (9-of-36) and 30.0 percent (3-of-10) ledgers at the other end.

The Huskies scored the first four points out of the break, making it a 22-5 extended run and taking a 41-24 lead with 18:18 to go. Connecticut pushed its advantage as high as 20, 46-26, with 16:36 left, but Miami did not go away. It hit seven straight shots and used a 19-7 run, including seven consecutive points in 47 seconds, to make it an eight-point margin, 53-45, with 11:40 remaining.

Connecticut, though, scored the next seven points to up its margin back to 15, 60-45, with 8:33 to play. Although Miami got the deficit back down to 10 multiple times, it could not pull any closer and the Huskies, KenPom’s top-ranked team in the nation, advanced to the national title game.

The Hurricanes shot their second-lowest clip of the season, 32.3 percent (20-of-62), and finished with fewer than 60 points for the first time all year. They did, however, post a 35.0 percent (7-of-20) mark from long range and a perfect 12-of-12 ledger at the stripe. At the other end, Connecticut shot 49.1 percent (28-of-57) overall.

Wong, who moved into fourth place on Miami’s career scoring list, hit all five of his free throws on the night. Fifth-year senior guard Jordan Miller, the Hurricanes’ lone player with no eligibility left, totaled 11 points and a co-game-best 10 rebounds for this third double-double of the year.

Connecticut junior forward Adama Sanogo paced all players with points and tied for the game lead with 10 rebounds, while finishing 9-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-3 beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins added 13 points on 3-of-7 long-range shooting.

The Hurricanes, after an Elite Eight berth followed by a Final Four bid, now enter the offseason after their best two-year stretch ever.

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

– Prior to connecting on his first two 3-pointers in the first 3:06, Sanogo was just 1-of-9 over the Huskies’ last 11 games and had not hit one since 3/1/23 versus DePaul.
– Miami’s 24 first-half points set a season low in any frame, one below their prior mark of 25 before the break against Drake on 3/17/23 in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64.
– The Hurricanes’ 25.0 first-half field-goal percentage marked their second-lowest ledger in a session this year, behind the 23.3 tally before halftime against Drake on 3/17/23, while the nine made field goals placed as their third-fewest in half, trailing the seven first-half makes versus Drake and the eight second-half makes against sixth-ranked Virginia on 12/20/22.
– Prior to Saturday’s Miami’s season low in points was 63 against Drake on 3/17/23, which was also the only game it had a lower field-goal percentage, finishing with a 30.4 percent (17-of-56) mark.
– Each team had just two double-figure scorers, with Saturday’s contest just the second all season in which the Hurricanes did not have at least three, joining their 1/21/23 setback at Duke.
– Miami fell to 15-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 11-6 under head coach Jim Larrañaga, 6-5 as a lower seed, 4-2 as the fifth seed, 12-10 as a single-digit seed, 1-1 versus fourth seeds, 7-8 against single-digit seeds, 1-1 in 4/5 games, 2-3 in Texas, 0-1 in the Final Four and 0-3 against BIG EAST teams.
– Saturday marked the first time all season the Hurricanes did not lead in a game and just the second time all year they lost by greater than seven points.
– Miami has is now 0-2 all-time in April contests, with its lone previous such outing a 66-64 overtime setback against Stanford in the 2015 NIT championship game on 2/2/15 in New York City.
– Connecticut became just the first top-10 team and second top-25 team to defeat Miami this year, as it finished 3-1 and 7-2, respectively, against such foes in 2022-23.
– The Hurricanes became the 12th different ACC school (based off current membership) to play in the Final Four, including the fifth since 2015 alone.
– Larrañaga is one of just four active coaches to take multiple schools to the Final Four, as he previously did so with George Mason in 2006.
– Miami posted a perfect free-throw percentage in an NCAA Tournament contest for the first time in program history.
– Wong’s 5-of-5 free throw ledger marked the seventh time a Hurricane has hit five-plus free throws without a miss in an NCAA Tournament game, including the second time he has done so.
– Connecticut’s 26 long-range attempts tied for the third-most by a Miami opponent in the NCAA Tournament.
– With 19 assists, Connecticut tied for the second-most by a Miami foe in NCAA Tournament play, matching the mark by Loyola Chicago on 3/15/18 and trailing only the 20 by Texas in the Hurricanes’ last outing on 3/26/23.
– Sanogo’s 81.8 field-goal percentage marked the second-most figure ever by a Hurricane opponent in the NCAA Tournament (min. five FGM), behind only Michigan State’s Nick Ward’s 88.9 percent (8-of-9) total on 3/17/17.
– Senior guard Tristen Newton notched a game-high eight assists for the Huskies, moving him into a four-way tie for the most ever by any player against Miami in the NCAA Tournament.
­– Wong eclipsed Darius Rice (2000-04) for fourth place on Miami’s all-time scoring list with 1,866 points.
– Wong passed Darius Rice (2000-04) for sixth place on the Hurricanes’ all-time made field goals list with 633.
– Wong moved past Tim James (1995-99) for fifth place on the program’s all-time field-goal attempts leaderboard with 1,439.
– Wong surpassed Davon Reed (2013-17) for ninth place on Miami’s all-time 3-point field goal attempts list with 513.
– Wong eclipsed Davon Reed (2013-17) and tied Durand Scott (2009-13) for third place on the program’s all-time games played leaderboard with 132.
– Wong passed Mike Wittman (1966-67), Guillermo Diaz (2005-06) and Dick tied Hickox (1959-60) for ninth place on Miami’s single-season scoring leaderboard with 597 points.

– Wong passed Mike Wittman (1965-66) for eighth place on the Hurricanes’ single-season made free throws leaderboard with 153.
– Wong passed Charlie Moore (2021-22) for sole possession of sixth place on the program’s single-season minutes list with 1,237.
– Miller and Wong entered a five-way tie for second-place on Miami’s single-season starts leaderboard with 37.
– Miller finished his Miami career with a 55.1 field-goal percentage (365-of-662), the second-best program history, behind only Omier, who still has eligibility.
– Miler passed Tim James (1995-99) to finish No. 11 on the program’s single-season made field goals list with 218, one shy of the top 10.
– Miller moved past Kameron McGusty (2021-22) and Sheldon McClellan (2015-16) for second place on Miami’s single-season minutes played list with 1,294.
– Third-year sophomore guard Nijel Pack passed Robert Hite (2005-06) for sixth place on Miami’s single-season made 3-pointers leaderboard with 86.
– Pack eclipsed DJ Vasiljevic (2019-20) for eighth place on the Hurricanes’ single-season 3-point attempts list with 213.
– Pack concluded the year with an 88.2 free-throw percentage (45-of-51), the fifth-best single-season mark in program history.
– Third-year sophomore forward Norchad Omier finished the year with a 57.4 field-goal percentage (186-of-324), the eighth-best single-season mark in program history.
– Omier passed Tonye Jekiri (204-15) for fourth place on Miami’s single-season rebounding list with 372.
– Omier moved past Tonye Jekiri (2015-16) for sole possession of fourth place on the program’s single-season personal fouls list with 121.
– Omier and sophomore guard Wooga Poplar entered a five-way tie for seventh place on Miami’s single-season starts leaderboard with 36.
– Omier, with his first board of the night, became the 19th active DI player with quadruple-digit rebounds, including the only one who is not in at least his fourth year of college.
– Redshirt freshman guard Jakai Robinson and freshman guard Christian Watson both made their NCAA Tournament debuts.