Miami Holds Off Determined Buffalo Team, Advances to Round of 32
By Julio Salazar | Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE, RI – The old adage “Survive and Advance” concerning the NCAA Tournament was on full display when the #3 seeded Miami Hurricanes narrowly escaped against an upset-minded #14 seed Buffalo Bulls team. In the tournament for the first time in three years, the Hurricanes showed rust and nerves.
Buffalo came out hot and snagged a 15-6 lead in the first seven minutes of the game, but Miami closed the half on a 29-16 run to take a 35-33 lead at halftime. The Canes were able to continue that run in the second half, building a double-digit lead and maintaining it until the last four minutes of the half.
The Bulls were able to threaten Miami down the stretch, cutting the lead to four with 1:55 left. However, Miami made the free throws they needed to down the stretch to preserve the victory.
Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan combined for 44 points. It was McClellan early who helped the Hurricanes survive the avalanche of triples by the Bulls. Down the stretch, Rodriguez kept attacking and getting to the line when Buffalo made a final charge. Having two seniors in your back court can help you avoid massive upsets this time of year, and this win can be credited to the experience of upperclassmen who never panicked.
Tonye Jekiri (ACC All-Defensive Team) had an off night defensively, so the Canes relied on Kamari Murphy and Davon Reed contesting shots and rebounding the ball.
The same night, the Wichita State Shockers easily advanced over Vanderbilt in a play-in before shocking the Arizona Wildcats, handing them their first double digit loss in three years. The Shockers have the nation’s top-rated defense in points allowed (59) and efficiency (according to KenPom analytics). They swarm, swat and smother all game long. They are led by the phenomenal senior backcourt of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, who reached the Final Four as freshmen, were 35-1 as sophomores and beat Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16 last March.
The Hurricanes are playing a team that has even more experience than they do, as the senior-loaded Shockers went to the Final Four three years ago and the Sweet 16 last season. All eyes will be on the guard battle between the UM senior duo of Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan and Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker.
Don’t be shocked if the Shockers can pull off yet another upset in the 2016 NCAA Tournament
(#11) Wichita State opens as 2.5 point favorite over (#3) Miami. The game will tip on Saturday from Dunkin’ Donuts Center at 12:10 PM (EST) and broadcast on CBS.