It was a game that the ghosts of the old Big East would have been proud of.
Tough defense, clutch shooting, and nip and tuck action through out made this one very fun to watch despite scoring being at a premium.
Miami fought hard and had a top 25 team on the ropes yet again, but was once again one offensive weapon or so short, in losing to #25 Pitt 59-55 in overtime.
True to form, the Hurricanes came out with purpose, and played with toughness from the start against the favored Panthers.
Rion Brown unexpectedly did not start (illness).
In his absence Garrius Adams took the burden of leading Miami's offense and provided some needed punch as it was 4-4 after two quick baskets by Adams.
The 'Canes continued to attack, even showing some full court press, and jumped out to an early 5 point lead behind the play of GA and Tonye Jekiri.
UM also got a boost from Erik Swoope off the bench, when he blocked Michael Young from behind, leading to a transition 3 pointer for Davon Reed.
With Miami seemingly shutting every one else down, Cameron Wright took over for the Panthers, cutting the lead to 1 with a drive, and a pull up, then giving Pitt the lead with a deep jumper.
Brown must have been feeling better by this point, or been inspired to answer Wright, because for a while he took over the game.
First, he drove baseline and found Swoope for a dunk to regain the lead. A stick back by Young would answer, but Brown would find Swoope yet again, this time for an alley hoop. He would then add a deep three to put the Canes up 26-22.
Seemingly UM was guaranteed a lead going into the half, but Lamar Patterson hit back-to-back threes to put the Panthers ahead 29-28 at intermission.
It was the last of 6 lead changes in the first 20 minutes. Wright's 10 points led Pitt, while Adams paced UM with 8.
Miami forced 7 first half turnovers but allowed 7 big offensive boards in a very competitive first half.
Neither team could muster much offense in the final 20 minutes.
After a long scoreless drought for both teams, Patterson finally hit another three over 5 minutes in, to break the seal.
Manu Lecomte would capitalize off a hustle play by Brown to hit a triple for UM's first points of the half a minute later.
But the 'Canes continued to struggle offensively and Pitt eventually opened up a 7 point lead when Josh Newkirk broke loose for a lay in.
Miami fought back from their largest deficit, and cut the lead to 1 when Lecomte found Brown on the break for a finger roll.
After several fails possessions by both teams, featuring a plethora of offensive rebounds but no conversions, Adams this time found Swoope for the lob to energize the crowd.
Swoope's hustle would continue on the next possession and a FT by the 6'5 senior forward evened things up at 39.
A foul call that should have been nullified by a shot clock violation led to a pair of FTs by Talib Zanna to put Pitt in the lead.
From there the action was nearly non stop.
Rion Brown, would nail a huge three to put UM back ahead with under 4 minutes to go.
James Robinson answered and UM got the ball back with a chance, but Adams missed a jumper.
Pitt appeared to foul on the offensive rebound attempt but nothing was called. The poor sequence continued when an obvious travel by Patterson was missed and a foul was instead called on Miami on the ensuing drive. He hit 1/2 to put the Panthers up 2.
Adams could have tied it one possession later but he too missed a pair at the charity stripe.
The defense held. Miami had the ball down a pair with 45 seconds left.
Lecomte put on a ball handling clinic before handing off to Brown at the top of the key, and RB nailed it to put UM up 45-44.
Patterson, however, strolled to the hoop for a nearly uncontested scoop shot to take the lead right back.
Miami got the ball back with 15 seconds left, and Manu beat the D to the hoop to draw the foul. He made just one of two to knot things up at 46.
Wright then missed a desperation three at the buzzer and off to OT the game went.
Brown got the OT started with another three, but Patterson was his equal on the other end with his own bomb to even things back up.
Patterson continued to be unstoppable and would put Pitt up again with another drive.
Inexplicably Raphael Akpejori would hit a pair of FT's to cut the lead to 1, before Patterson then put them up 2 with a FT of his own.
Miami even had one last chance to tie or take the lead, but could not come up with a shot.
Once again they had fought hard, once again they had faltered.
A few made free throws, a break here of there, and Miami might have had a signature win. It was another fantastic effort.
Unfortunately for Miami though, they have been one play short in games like this all season.
|Talib Zanna, F||3-7||0-0||4-6||3||2||5||0||1||0||0||4||10|
|Michael Young, F||2-6||0-1||0-0||3||4||7||2||0||1||2||2||4|
|Lamar Patterson, G||6-14||4-7||9-12||1||2||3||4||1||1||4||4||25|
|James Robinson, G||2-7||0-1||1-2||1||5||6||2||1||1||1||3||5|
|Cameron Wright, G||4-11||0-1||4-4||4||5||9||1||3||0||1||2||12|
|Jamel Artis, F||0-3||0-2||1-2||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||2||1|
|Derrick Randall, F||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Chris Jones, G||0-2||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh Newkirk, G||1-4||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||3||2|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes|
|Donnavan Kirk, F||0-4||0-1||0-0||0||2||2||1||1||1||1||1||0|
|Tonye Jekiri, C||1-3||0-0||1-2||3||1||4||0||2||0||0||4||3|
|Davon Reed, G||1-9||1-3||1-2||0||3||3||1||1||0||1||2||4|
|Manu Lecomte, G||2-7||0-3||4-6||3||2||5||2||0||0||3||3||8|
|Garrius Adams, G||4-11||0-3||2-5||0||6||6||1||1||1||3||4||10|
|James Kelly, F||0-1||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Raphael Akpejiori, F||0-0||0-0||2-2||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||2||2|
|Erik Swoope, F||3-3||0-0||1-3||3||2||5||1||0||2||0||3||7|
|Rion Brown, G||7-14||4-9||3-5||1||3||4||3||0||0||2||1||21|