Friday, March 22, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Miami 78, Pacific 49
By Carter Strickland
AUSTIN, Texas -- Miami had little trouble with No. 15 seed Pacific, winning 78-49. Here are a few thoughts from the game:
Overview: Bob Thomason decided a little less than a year ago it was time to say goodbye to coaching after 25 years at Pacific. But despite the long goodbye, the ending was rather sudden thanks to Miami in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
The No. 2 Hurricanes, clearly not ones for sentimentalities, burst out to a 24-point first half lead against the No. 15 Tigers and only rarely glanced over their shoulders. Instead Miami was too busy making sure the chip it heaved onto its shoulders after Selection Sunday was not just firmly in place but growing.
Miami played with the attitude one might expect from an ACC team that won its conference title but not the respect of the selection committee. Shane Larkin led the charge, first exploiting holes in the Pacific defense and then exploiting them. The sophomore finished with 10 points and nine assists. Miami's Durand Scott led all scorers with 21 points, hitting 18 of those in the second half. Travis Fulton led Pacific with 18 points.
Turning Point: Um, let's see ... Sunday night. Yep, that's when the brackets came out and it was immediately evident that this would be a lopsided game. Miami, which won the ACC, had the pedigree of a top-seeded team but was moved to a No. 2. (Even Thomason joked this was the first time in NCAA history a No. 15 was playing a No. 1 seed.) That slight clearly provided some motivation as the Hurricanes wasted little time in building that 24-point lead. Pacific didn't have the size to stop the Hurricanes on the inside or the quickness to keep up on the outside.
Key Player: Go ahead and make that plural and say key players. Miami had nine guys who scored in the first half alone. The Hurricanes' depth allowed them to rotate players in and out of the game and keep undermanned Pacific on its heels. Additionally, Miami, because it used its bench, should have plenty of rest before its next game Sunday.
Key Stat: The Hurricanes hit five of their first 11 threes, including the first two they took, forcing the Pacific zone to stretch and eventually snap as the Hurricanes moved the ball anywhere they wanted on the floor. Miami was even prolific with the threes in the second half as Scott got hot and hit four of six over an eight-minute stretch to start the half. Miami shot 54.5 percent for the game from behind the arc.
Next: Miami will take on the winner of the No. 7 Illinois versus No. 10 Colorado matchup at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.