No. 5 Miami downs No. 2 Texas, advances to first Final Four
Field Level Media
Mar 26, 2023
Nobody's perfect, but Jordan Miller made a pretty good run at it. As a result, he and his teammates are going to the Final Four.
Miller went 7-for-7 from the field and 13-for-13 from the free-throw line to lift No. 5 seed Miami to an 88-81 victory over No. 2 seed Texas in the Midwest Region final.
Miami qualified for its first Final Four in program history, joining Florida Atlantic and San Diego State as teams making their debuts in 2023. The last time three teams made their Final Four debut in the same tournament was in 1970, when Jacksonville, St. Bonaventure and New Mexico State debuted.
"I've said it all season long, (Miller) is the most underrated player in the country because he's good at everything," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "He can rebound. He defends all different-sized guys. Today he was switching ball screens and keeping (his) guy in front of him.
"He makes all of his free throws. He's a great, great player. Simple."
Miller, who had three rebounds, two assists and only one turnover, wasn't looking for perfection. In fact, he didn't know how good his stat line was until after the game.
"I didn't know I had a perfect game until someone told me afterwards," he said. "I was so focused on getting the win.
"I'm very proud of this team. We were down at halftime and we haven't been down that much at halftime in a really long time. The way we came together makes me proud of this group."
Miami (29-7) also got 16 points from Wooga Poplar, 15 from Nijel Pack and 14 from Isaiah Wong. Norchad Omier added 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Texas (29-9) was trying to advance to its first Final Four since 2003. The Longhorns' other two appearances were in 1943 and 1947.
Texas was led by Marcus Carr, who had 17 points. Timmy Allen added 16 and Sir'Jabari Rice had 15.
Miami cut the deficit to six points early in the second half, but Texas responded. The Longhorns led by as many as 13 before the second media timeout.
"Miami really started trying to get downhill," Texas interim coach Rodney Terry said. "They started putting their heads down, going one-on-one and spreading us out.
"They did a good job of getting to the paint and getting to the foul line. They made 28 free throws and attempted 32."
The Hurricanes wouldn't go away, trimming it to 67-58 at the 10-minute mark and 70-64 with 8:09 to go. Wong's baseline jumper at the 7:04 mark got Miami within 72-68.
"When you're at a timeout, you need their attention," Larranaga said. "The first thing that happens is I meet with my coaches. We talk about the adjustments we need to make.
"When I finished my meeting with the coaches, I turned to the circle and Norchad is sitting in my chair telling them what to do."
Pack's layup with 6:11 left trimmed Texas' lead to two points. Omier's dunk through contact tied it with 5:26 remaining, and he sank a free throw for a three-point play that gave Miami its first lead since 21-20.
Tyrese Hunter hit a 3-pointer to give the Longhorns the lead before Wong tied it again. The game was tied at 75-all at the final media timeout.
Two Miller free throws gave Miami the lead before Carr tied it with a jumper in the lane with 1:26 to go. Omier hit two free throws with 1:00 left, and then Wong hit two with 34.4 seconds left to put the Hurricanes up 83-79.
Miller rebounded a Texas miss and went to the line with 23 seconds left. He hit both free throws. Hunter's layup with 17.8 seconds to play cut it to 85-81. Miller's final two freebies stretched the lead to six points, and the Hurricanes held on from there.
Even when they were down, the Hurricanes never gave up confidence.
"I knew from the beginning of the season that this team was special," Pack said after being named the Midwest Region's Most Outstanding Player. "The Drake game at the beginning of this tournament was a little nervous, but we overcame that.
"Then we overcame three really good teams after that. The ACC is a tough conference and it got us prepared for this moment.
"We had to have confidence that we could come back the whole game. If we didn't have confidence then who would?"
The Longhorns went into the locker room with a 45-37 lead despite Miami shooting 64 percent (16-for-25). Texas countered with 54.8 percent shooting (17-for-31).
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