Down goes the last of the No. 1 seeds!
The fifth-seeded University of Miami men’s basketball team upset top-seeded Houston 89-75 on Friday to advance to the Elite Eight. The victory, which came shortly after No. 1 Alabama fell to No. 5 San Diego State, means all four top seeds have been eliminated from the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Miami, with Nijel Pack hitting seven of the team’s 11 threes against one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses, will make a second straight appearance in the Elite Eight after advancing last season for the first time in program history. The Hurricanes move on to play the winner of No. 2 Texas and No. 3 Xavier on Sunday, where they’ll have a chance to reach their first Final Four.
It extends what has been the most successful March Madness in the University’s history, with the women’s basketball team having advanced to its first Elite Eight earlier on Sunday with an upset win over Villanova.
The men’s team joined them by capitalizing on early Houston turnovers, with a steal by Anthony Walker leading to a Pack three that gave the Hurricanes a 25-23 lead with 7:48 left in the first half. Miami then beat Houston in transition on consecutive possessions, leading to a dunk by Anthony Walker and a layup by Pack to cap a 7-0 run that pushed the lead to six.
Houston came out of a timeout and responded with back-to-back threes by Jarace Walker and Emanuel Sharp to tie the score at 29-29.
Pack later hit a deep straightaway three and then, off a steal, fed Norchad Omier downcourt for the layup plus the foul to increase the Miami lead to 37-31. Isaiah Wong drew the foul on a deep jumper in the closing seconds of the half and hit both free throws to send the Hurricanes into the break with a 42-36 lead.
Pack had 14 first-half points and Wong added 12 to lead Miami, which had just one first-half turnover to Houston’s six.
Houston pulled within two early in the second half before Pack hit three three-pointers over a 2:10 span to give the Hurricanes a 62-53 lead.
Wong then kicked it out to Jordan Miller, who drained a corner three to push the lead to 13. Wooga Poplar added another three to cap an 11-0 run for a 70-53 lead, and their ticket was soon punched.
Pack finished with 26 points, connecting on 7 of 10 attempts from three to lead the Hurricanes, which shot 51.7 from the field and 44 percent from deep (11-for-25). Wong added 20 points, Miller had 13 and Omier had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Walker led Houston with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Cougars, which entered having won 15 of their last 16 games, were seeking a third-straight trip to the Elite Eight. Instead, they make an early exit, just like their fellow No. 1 seeds: Alabama, Kansas and Purdue.
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