Jordan Miller the latest in line of NCAA Tournament heroes for Final Four-bound Hurricanes
Published in Basketball
Jordan Miller was perfect on Sunday.
The Hurricanes’ fifth-year senior guard made all seven of his shots from the field and all 13 of his free throws, scoring 27 points in Miami’s comeback Elite Eight victory over Texas.
Miller is the first player to take at least seven shots from the field and free-throw line and hit all of them in an NCAA Tournament game in more than 30 years. The last player to accomplish the feat was Duke’s Christian Laettner in the 1992 Elite Eight. In that game, Laettner hit “The Shot” — a last-second, game-winning basket that sent Duke to the Final Four.
Miller did not have a last-second heave on Sunday, but his efforts were equally important.
“I’ve said it all season long: He’s the most underrated player in the country because he’s good at everything,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said after the Hurricanes’ first-ever win in the Elite Eight. “In the summertime, he had a 7:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in practices. Seven to one. That’s ridiculous. That’s better than any point guard I know. He can rebound. He defends all different-sized guys. [On Sunday] he was switching ball screens at the end and keeping the guy in front of him.
“Last week he guarded Indiana’s center Trayce Jackson-Davis, did a fantastic job on him. He can shoot the three. He’s great at driving. Straight line drive, dribble drives. He makes all of his free throws. He is a great, great player. Simple.”
Although Miller was the star in what is — for now — the biggest win in Hurricanes history, he is not alone in providing crucial contributions. Miami’s whole lineup has stepped up in postseason play. In four NCAA Tournament games, the Hurricanes have had three different players lead them in points. In their win over second-seeded Texas, all five Hurricanes starters had double-digit points.
“Between Nijel [Pack], Wooga [Poplar], and (Isaiah Wong), we’ve got a tremendous backcourt,” Larrañaga said. “And you look at our four/five position with Jordan, who’s exceptional, and we’ve got the best rebounder in the country with Norchad [Omier].”
The fifth-seeded Hurricanes (29-7) needed the entire team on Sunday. They found themselves trailing the Longhorns by as much as 13 points. Miami’s deficit was still 10 points with 8:55 left in the second half. But the situation was not too big for the ‘Canes.
Miami has had more than its share of tight games. UM notched close victories against Clemson, Duke, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest during the regular season. UM also dropped close games to Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Pittsburgh.
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