Nijel Pack and Miami hit shots from near and far against the stingiest defense in the nation to beat Houston 89-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16, leaving the NCAA tournament without a No. 1 seed among its teams. last eight teams for the first time. since planting began in 1979.
Miami (28-7), only the fifth team this season to score at least 70 points against Houston (33-4), will play second seed Texas or No. 3 seed Xavier in the Midwest Region final for the opportunity to go to the Final Four.
About 30 minutes before Houston’s loss, first overall seed Alabama fell to San Diego State in Louisville, Ky. No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas both lost over the opening weekend of the tournament.
The fifth-seeded Hurricanes reached a regional final for the second year in a row just hours after Miami’s ninth-seeded women’s team held on to beat Villanova and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time. Miami and Connecticut are the only schools with teams remaining in both tournaments.
This is the first time in three years that Houston has not made the Elite Eight.
The Cougars couldn’t stop a multi-faceted Miami offense led by Pack’s 3-point shooting. He had season-highs of 7-on-10 3-pointers and 26 points.
Isaiah Wong’s midrange play helped get the Hurricanes off to a fast start and he finished with 20 points. Jordan Miller hurt the Cougars with his drive and scored 13 points, and Norchad Omier was as tough as ever under the rim as he posted his 16th double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
It resulted in a heartbreaking finish for a Cougars team that was in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight time, had won 15 of its last 16 games, and had a season-long goal of playing in next week’s Final Four in their hometown. native.
Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, to the delight of his players, performed dance moves in the locker room befitting a 73-year-old reminiscent of the disco era. He was then joined up front by Wooga Poplar and Joseph Bensley for an impromptu line dance.
Larranaga will be looking for his first Final Four with Miami and his second overall: he took George Mason there as a No. 11 seed in 2006.
Miami used a 16-5 stretch that spanned the halves to climb by double digits, with Omier’s three-point play and Jordan Miller’s short left-handed bench shot making it 47-36 and forcing the Miami coach Houston, Kelvin Sampson, to ask for one less timeout. two minutes into the second half.
Houston struggled to make it a two-point game, but then Pack hit three 3-pointers and Miller and Poplar each hit one to fuel a 16-2 run that put the Hurricanes ahead 70-53. The lead grew to 17 points, and Houston was never closer to 11 the rest of the way.
There was no denying that it was Miami night after Houston put in a mini run with less than five minutes to go. With the shot clock running down, Omier was forced to place a jumper just inside the free throw line. He bounced off the front of the rim, then the backboard, then the front of the rim again before falling. A minute later, Houston’s Jarace Walker missed at point blank range.
Walker led the Cougars with 16 points. Jamal Shead contributed 15 and All-American Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark each had 14 for the Cougars, who shot just 37% overall and 29% from long range.
Entering the game as a 7 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, Houston fell behind at the half for the second straight game after the Hurricanes played their best part of the tournament.
Miami turned the ball over just once through the first 20 minutes, turning Houston’s six turnovers into 15 points and shooting 6-for-14 from long range against the second-best three-point defense in the nation.
Pack made four of them, and they all arrived on time. His first three gave Miami the lead, and the fourth broke a 31-all tie.