The No. 2-seed Texas Longhorns appeared headed for the Final Four for the first time in 20 years with a 13-point lead in the second half over the No. 5-seed Miami Hurricanes before going cold offensively and struggling to defend without fouling in a 88-81 win for the Hurricanes in Kansas City on Sunday.
Miami guard Jordan Miller scored a game-high 27 points in an unbelievably efficient performance, making all seven field-goal attempts and all 13 free throws. For Texas, which was without breakout forward Dylan Disu for a second straight game, guard Marcus Carr scored 17 points, but needed 15 shots to do so, and forward Timmy Allen scored 16 points before fouling out.
Miami started hot, scoring the first seven points and taking a 9-2 lead on a layup by guard Isaiah Wong, but Texas guard Sir’Jabari Rice came off the bench and hit a three to jumpstart a 7-0 run by the Longhorns to tie the game at the first media timeout, aided by the contributions of guard Brock Cunningham, who came in playing strong defense while hitting a layup, grabbing three rebounds, and picking up an assist.
In a long stretch of play that went well past the under-eight timeout, both teams were playing at a high level offensively with Miami successfully attacking the paint with 16 of its first 28 points coming in the lane and Texas hitting five threes and getting 10 points from forward Timmy Allen while assisting on 10 of the first 12 made field goals.
Two threes by guard Arterio Morris off the bench kept the Longhorns in the lead by the delayed final media timeout of the first half as Texas hit 6-of-8 shots and Miami countered with 5-of-7 shooting as both teams displayed high-level shotmaking.
A jumper by Cunningham and a shot in the lane by Carr out of the media timeout gave the Longhorns an eight-point lead, the largest of the game, and forced the Hurricanes to use their first timeout. Miami scored a basket after the break before Carr was fouled shooting a three with 3.2 seconds remaining, converting two to take a 45-37 lead into halftime.
For the fourth straight game, the Longhorns forced their opponent into one-on-one basketball, allowing only six assists on 16 made baskets by the Hurricanes while limiting Miami to only three three-point attempts in the first half.
An electric lob from Carr to forward Dillon Mitchell in transition started the scoring in the second half for Texas, which used a 6-0 run to take a 12-point lead as the defensive intensity for the Longhorns picked up a notch. Carr’s third three of the game maintained the margin heading into the under-16 timeout as Texas started the second half 6-of-8 shooting.
After the clean, free-flowing first half, the second half dissolved into a flurry of whistles with both teams getting into the bonus by midway through the half as Miami hung around, cutting the Texas lead to four points when interim head coach Rodney Terry called a timeout with 6:58 remaining with the Longhorns bogging down offensively, missing 6-of-7 shots — a lob from Carr to Mitchell was the only made field goal over six and a half minutes.
Texas remained cold offensively, turning the ball over and missing two shots as Miami went on a 13-2 run to take the lead before Hunter hit a huge three for the Horns, but the Hurricanes closed better, converting 25-of-27 free throws in the second half and forcing critical turnovers by Allen and Carr down the stretch.
Of the 18 fouls whistled against Texas after halftime, none was more important than a loose ball foul called on Cunningham as he tried to box out Miami forward Norchad Omier, initially called an over-the-back foul on Omier. The two free throws by Omier broke the tie game before Omier stripped Carr with 42 seconds remaining, leading to two free throws by guard Isaiah Wong. The Hurricanes ultimately took 17 more free throws than the Longhorns.