Heartbreak in KC: Texas blows 13-point lead, falls 88-81 to Miami in Elite Eight

Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Jordan Miller (11) points as he reacts in the game against the Texas Longhorns in the second half at the T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Heartbreak in KC: Texas blows 13-point lead, falls 88-81 to Miami in Elite Eight

No. 5-seed Miami 88, No. 2-seed Texas 81 

The second-seeded Texas Longhorns saw their 2023 NCAA Tournament journey end with an 88-81 loss to the No. 5-seed Miami Hurricanes on Sunday evening in Kansas City. Miami, which toppled No. 1-seed Houston before completing a Texas two-step on Sunday, will now head to the Final Four in Houston to take on Connecticut next Saturday. 

Texas led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but a 17-5 run by Miami put the Hurricanes ahead 73-72 with 5:26 to play. The Hurricanes forced Texas turnovers repeatedly to spark their comeback, while Isaiah Wong followed up a 2-point first half with 12 points in the latter 20 minutes. Jordan Miller led Miami in scoring with 27 points. All five starters for the Hurricanes finished in double figures, while the Hurricanes got next to nothing from their bench.

Miami’s Jordan Miller finished the night 7-for-7 from the field and 13-for-13 from the free throw line, becoming the first player to finish an NCAA Tournament game perfect from both the field and the free throw line since Christian Laettner did so for Duke in 1992 versus Kentucky.

Marcus Carr led the way for Texas with 17 points, while Timmy Allen scored 16 and Sir’Jabari Rice scored 15. Texas once again played without Dylan Disu, who played just two minutes in the Sweet 16 against Xavier before leaving due to a foot injury. 

Miami shot a scorching 59% from the field, while Texas made 50% of its shots. Texas made 10 3-pointers to just two for Miami, but the Hurricanes spent much of the second half at the free throw line, where they made 28-of-32. The Longhorns committed 14 costly turnovers on the night, many of which happened in the game’s final five minutes as the game slipped away. Overall, Miami finished the game on a 39-19 run to win.

Miami blitzed the Longhorns over the first few minutes, earning a 7-0 lead before two free throws by Christian Bishop finally got the Longhorns onto the scoreboard. Texas put together a spurt of its own before long, though, and tied the game at nine after Brock Cunningham’s running layup led to the first media timeout of the night. 

Sir’Jabari Rice, who scored five of the Longhorns’ first 11 points despite not starting, hit a floater with just over 14 minutes remaining to give his team its first lead. Rice became responsible for eight of the Longhorns’ first 14 points just two minutes later, drilling his second 3-pointer of the night to make it 14-11. For Texas, 13 of its first 17 points came from players who did not start (five for Cunningham alongside Rice’s eight). 

Texas started strong from beyond the arc as a whole, making four of their first seven 3-pointers. Unfortunately for the Horns, Miami held a 16-2 advantage on points in the paint through the first 12 minutes of action to stay within a point, 20-19. 

The Longhorns opened a game-high six-point lead with two minutes to go in the first half, pulling ahead 39-33 after Arterio Morris drained his first 3-pointer of the night. Marcus Carr added four points for Texas in the final minute, sending his team into the locker room with a 45-37 lead. 

Texas outscored Miami 21-2 in bench points in the opening 20 minutes, led by Sir’Jabari Rice’s eight. Marcus Carr led the way for the Longhorns overall, while Jordan Miller paced the Hurricanes with 13 first-half points. Miami shot an impressive 61.5% from the field in the first half, but were out-rebounded 14-9 and struggled to keep up with the 3-point happy Longhorns, who made 7-of-13. 

The Longhorns emphatically extended their lead to double digits for the first time with their first points of the second half, on an alley-oop from Marcus Carr to Dillon Mitchell that made it 47-37. Timmy Allen made it a 12-point lead on a jumper with 17:17 to go, forcing Miami head coach Jim Larranaga to call a timeout. 

Texas’ lead ballooned to 13 points at 62-49 a few minutes later, and the Longhorns held a lead of a similar size for much of the second half. Miami’s troubles worsened with 11 minutes remaining when Norchad Omier, one of very few inside presences available to the undersized Hurricanes, was taken out of the game after picking up his fourth foul.

Miami, fighting for its season, battled back to within six points at the 8:09 mark when Wooga Poplar made a pair of free throws. Both teams entered the bonus early in what was a physical half of basketball, leading to plenty of free throws down the stretch. The Hurricanes continued to put a scare into the Longhorns when Isaiah Wong hit a turnaround jumper with 6:58 left, making it 72-68 and capping off a 13-5 run.

After a timeout by Rodney Terry halted the Hurricanes’ momentum briefly, Miami picked up where it left off. Two straight buckets, the latter of which was followed by a free throw by Norchad Omier, gave Miami its first lead since the early moments of the game at 73-72. 

The Longhorns and Hurricanes entered the final two-and-a-half minutes of the game tied, 77-77, before Timmy Allen’s fourth foul of the night sent Jordan Miller to the free throw line. Miller, who entered the game shooting 75.2% from the free throw line, drilled both to make him 9-for-9 on the night and put Miami back in front. 

After a jumper by Marcus Carr tied the game at 79, Norchad Omier made another two Miami free throws after being fouled trying for a rebound. Needing a bucket on the possession that followed, Marcus Carr turned the basketball over – and after two more made free throws, this time by Isaiah Wong, the Hurricanes led 83-79 with 34.4 seconds to go. 

After another empty possession for the Horns, Timmy Allen fouled out, and Miami extended its lead once more at the free throw line.

Miami finished the game strong, pulling away to win 88-81 and punch its ticket to the Final Four in Houston. The Hurricanes covered a spread that saw them catching four points, while the game easily soared over its 148-point total.

2022-2023 was incredible season that saw the Longhorns win 29 games, win the Big 12 Tournament, and come within minutes of a Final Four appearance. Texas may have lost in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday, but the program’s expectations will remain high moving forward.

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