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Miami's Season of Runs Ends in Sweet 16

Rob Carr

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. The 2012-13 Miami Hurricanes season will be one of, if not the most talked about Hurricanes hoops team for a long time. Even if the program has success in the future (which I’m fully expecting), this will be the season we all look back to. And that’s why it wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Opening the season unranked? That was expected.

Losing to Florida Gulf Coast in the second game of the season? That game should have been won, but truth be told, I think all Canes fans can agree that they’ve learned never to get their hopes too high with Canes basketball.

And that’s when the magic started.

The Canes won 6 straight games, including a monster home victory against Michigan State.

The magic took a break when Miami headed to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic, where they dropped two of three games, including a disappointing loss to Indiana State, and a curb stomping courtesy of the Arizona Wildcats.

After Hawaii, things really got good for Canes hoops.

On January 10th, Miami headed on the road to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for an early conference showdown with UNC. After trailing by 2 at halftime, Miami came out gunning in the second half, and ultimately won the game by 9 points. Statement. Made.

Two weeks later, Miami won arguably the biggest game in program history, when they beat the life out of Duke on their home floor by 27 point. If there were any doubters left, they went quiet at this point.

On the road against North Carolina State, the Canes experienced their first bit of luck. With 4 seconds on the clock and Miami trailing by 1, Shane Larkin took a shot from the right elbow, missed it hard off the backboard, but Reggie Johnson was right there for a game winning tip in. This season is starting to become special.

One week later, that same North Carolina team that Miami had beat at home came down to Miami seeking revenge. Instead, Miami took them to the cleaners in front of a sold out Bank United Center that featured Miami Heat stars Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. And James Jones. I didn’t forget about you, JJ.

After three more wins to bring the winning streak to 14 and reaching the #2 ranking in the country, Miami’s luck started to run out.

The Canes travelled to Winston Salem for a road game against Wake Forest. Wake led by 13 at halftime, and didn’t take their foot off the gas until they secured a 15 point win. 13-0 conference record, gone. All of a sudden, there were questions.

After a win against Virginia Tech, Miami travelled to Cameron Indoor for a battle with the Duke Blue Devils. The Canes led at halftime, but Ryan Kelly delivered three after three for the Blue Devils, before they finally pulled away late. Miami had a chance for some late game magic, but Rion Brown missed a three. It wasn’t meant to be.

The Canes then returned home to face Georgia Tech after losing two of three. That didn’t happen, either. Georgia Tech won the game on a late game tip in by Marcus Georges-Hunt.

And then the magic returned! The Canes beat Clemson to secure sole possession of the ACC regular season championship, and continued that momentum in to the ACC tournament, where they beat Boston College, North Carolina State and UNC en route to their first ACC Championship in school history.

And then the tournament.

Miami cruised in their first game against Pacific, as everybody expected. In the round of 32 against Illinois, Miami struggled at times, but was ultimately able to pull off a 4-point victory, led by Shane Larkin’s late game heroics.

And then Marquette happened. Here’s the thing: Most of what I just said was never supposed to happen. The Miami Hurricanes were never supposed to beat the Duke Blue Devils in basketball by 27. They were never supposed to win the ACC regular season championship or the ACC Tournament. But they did. And it was incredible.

And that’s why the season wasn’t supposed to end against Marquette on Thursday night. This season was special. Even when the team played absolutely horrible, they still found ways to win games. Clemson on the road. Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament. Even Illinois in the round of 32 at times. All wins. Things seemed like they were just meant to work out for this team. Until they weren’t.

Miami was never in the game against Marquette. They trailed by 13 at halftime, and if not for a late barrage of threes, Miami would have lost this game by about 19 points instead of 10 points. It was never close. Durand Scott shot 3-13 from the floor. In other games when that happened, somebody else stepped up. That didn’t happen today. Trey McKinney-Jones finished 3-10 from the floor, and Rion Brown finished 2-12. Nobody had it going. Meanwhile, Marquette did have it going, and while Miami has often been able to survive games where they never get a good feel for their offense, that wasn’t the case today. Marquette outplayed the Canes for 40 minutes in this one. That magic that we had experienced all season was gone.

And truth be told? I’m not even mad. I’m disappointed, sure. But this team was special, regardless of how the season ended. Five seniors, who are all as likeable as can be. They took a season that was never supposed to happen and made it happen, and for that, we as fans should be thankful. The impact that those five guys had on this program can’t be overstated. Thank you, Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji, Julian Gamble, Trey McKinney-Jones, and Reggie Johnson. It’s been a hell of a run.