Mar 24, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser (0) drives to the basket as Miami Hurricanes guard Isaiah Wong (2), guard Wooga Poplar (55) and forward Norchad Omier (15) defend during the second half of an NCAA tournament Midwest Regional semifinal at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was a night when the Miami Hurricanes flooded the Houston Cougars basketball team’s dreams to compete in a Final Four at home.
Behind 11 long-range shots, fifth-seed Miami overcame a second-half rally that got one-seed Houston within just two points in the middle of the second half to blast past the Cougars, 89-75, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
The Cougars went ice-cold down the stretch on their 3-pointers. They shot just 2-of-14 on 3’s in the second half. Ultimately, it was UH’s inability to stop Miami that sealed the Cougars’ fate. The Hurricanes, in comparison, went 5-for-11 on 3-pointers in the second half.
While UH’s season ended in a disappointing manner, senior center Reggie Chaney played a key role in Houston’s 13-4 run that cut Miami’s lead to 51-49 in the second half.
It was the Hurricanes that came out of halftime and scored the first four points of the period to build a then-game-high 11-point lead when head coach Kelvin Sampson called an early timeout less than 90 seconds into the half.
Sampson put Chaney into the game along with the starters, and the Tulsa, Oklahoma native helped stifle the Hurricanes’ offense momentarily. Chaney came out of the game with 14:42 left in the second half to rest, and Miami’s offense picked back up.
A pull-up 3-pointer from sophomore guard Nijel Pack gave Miami breathing room and was only the beginning of what was to come.
While junior guard Jamal Shead came down the other end and hit a driving layup to answer, Miami’s offensive onslaught just kept on coming. Sophomore forward Norchad Omier got a second-chance layup, and then Pack hit another 3-pointer to push Miami’s lead to 59-51.
After freshman forward Jarace Walker hit a pull-up jumper, Pack came down the other end again and delivered another 3-pointer for Miami.
Two more 3-pointers hit by senior guard Jordan Miller and sophomore guard Wooga Poplar sandwiched a pair of free throws by junior guard Isaiah Wong and made it 70-53 in favor of the Hurricanes.
Miami used its 19-4 run in the second half to put the Cougars away and advance to its second straight Elite Eight appearance. Houston never got within 11 points the rest of the way.
Sasser, who played in his final game as a member of the Houston Cougars, had 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Shead had all 15 of his points in the second half. He also had five assists. Walker had 16 points in what likely will be his final game for Houston also.
The Hurricanes will play the winner of two-seed Texas and three-seed Xavier in the Elite Eight on Sunday. Houston Cougars basketball ended its season 33-4.