NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In their first NCAA tournament appearance in six years, the University of Miami Hurricanes advanced past St. Mary’s College before being eliminated by Texas in the second round.
The Hurricanes defeated St. Mary’s 78-64 Friday thanks to Jack McClinton’s career-high 38 points on 12-of-19 shooting.
McClinton’s 32 second-half points helped the Canes to a 25-5 run that put the game out of reach for the Gaels.
“It’s the best game I’ve seen him play,” head coach Frank Haith said Friday. “I can’t imagine him having a better performance than he did today.”
Dwayne Collins and Jimmy Graham helped the Canes outrebound the Gaels by 13, totaling nine and seven rebounds, respectively.
James Dews, Graham and McClinton were held out of practice during the week due to fevers.
“It’s been a rough week for me,” Graham said Friday. “Monday and Tuesday I was bed-ridden, no class, no practice, so I’m feeling a lot better than I was.”
Guard Patty Mills led the Gaels with 24 points, but the Canes held the Australia native, one of a small number of Aborigines in major sports, to 4-of-14 shooting in the second half.
“He’s as good a point guard we played all year,” Haith said.
Haith later said the same of D.J. Augustin of Texas, whom the Hurricanes faced Sunday in the second round. The Canes’ tournament run came to an end with a 75-72 loss to the Longhorns.
Facing a 16-point deficit with 4:15 remaining, the Canes went on a 22-9 run to close out the game, getting within two points with 1.8 seconds remaining. But after Augustin missed one of two free throws to give UM a chance, Anthony King’s full-court inbounds pass fell short and time expired.
“I thought our kids didn’t quit,” Haith said. “We got behind really big early. Second half I thought we played better defense. We just ran out of time.”
Texas shot 56 percent from three-point range in the first half, but was held to 8-of-23 field goals in the second half, helping the Hurricanes cut into an 11-point halftime deficit.
McClinton finished with 18 points but didn’t score in the second half until 5:13 as part of a 25-10 Hurricanes run that ignited the neutral-site crowd in favor of UM.
“You expect it,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “I don’t care where you play, people love to see the darker uniforms win.”
Ray Hicks and Anthony King added 10 and eight points, respectively, in their final game as Hurricanes. Hicks sank two three-pointers late in the second half after making only four all year.
Despite the disappointment of the exit, Haith said he was proud of his team’s effort in the tournament.
“I think we had a tremendous year,” he said. “This ballclub has been doubted all year. All the negative stuff been said about this team, even as the season started, these guys never were phased by any of that. There’s no question the kind of season we had. I think the future is really bright for this basketball team.”
Corey Erb may be contacted at email@example.com.