Last season the 'Canes started off red-hot and won the Gildan Charleston Classic. Soon after, a solid but under-the-radar team came to Coral Gables: UW-Green Bay. Just over a year ago the 'Canes laid a giant uninspiring egg at home against Green Bay and followed it up almost two-weeks later (after a long break) with a disaster against Eastern Kentucky. It is likely that these two home-cooked beatings led to the 'Canes being left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Was a letdown possible? Would the 'Canes yet again succumb to the dark side of elfin magic and give the NCAA committee something to reset the 'Canes into the netherworld of the NIT? Or would Miami Basketball come out with the same relentless effort that had crushed their previous opponents?
After a missed lob attempt from Angel Rodriguez to Sheldon McClellan, Northeastern sprinted off to an early 8-0 lead. It was obvious Miami wanted to get the ball in the post to Tonye Jekiri. Jekiri converted on a post move and then dunked off a nice feed from Davon Reed to cut the deficit in half.But the Northeastern Huskies continued to make a lot of shots. Jekiri accounted for all of Miami's scoring for the first 7:56 minutes of the contest, until Ja'Quan Newton converted a hoop and harm after an aggressive offensive rebound in traffic.
Still, it wasn't enough to shake Northeastern who continued to shoot lights out from deep. Rodriguez and McClellan hit on a showtime lob, but it wasn't that ignition spark that would set the 'Canes on a nice run. With 7:34 left in the half, the Hurricanes were down 25-15.
Miami was having a difficult time scoring against the zone until McClellan converted a three-point play on a strong move to the hole. Newton scored off a nice dish from Rodriguez, but the 'Canes were struggling to trim the Northeastern lead under 10 points. The 'Canes, while struggling, seemed coiled for one of their mega-runs.
Reed drilled a three, Newton took an outlet pass and hit a floater, and then James Palmer caught a fade pattern and scored - and suddenly the 'Canes were within three points and Northeastern needed a timeout to regroup. The Huskies hung in there enough to take a 35-30 lead into halftime.
The second half started with a Reed dunk, a Reed layup, and a three by McClellan - but Northeastern converted inside and outside to keep the 'Canes from building any real momentum. McClellan and Reed kept firing away, trying to will the 'Canes a lead, but it was Northeastern continuing to shoot the lights out from three-ball range.
Ivan Cruz Uceda finally got on the board by drilling a three from the corner, but for every 'Cane basket Northeastern had an answer.
With just over 9 mins left the 'Canes were down 55-53 when McClellan drove hard to tie it up and fire up the crowd. Suddenly, the BUC was a noisy place and a frantic defensive effort sent Northeastern to the line for two shots. Then, Rodriguez hit a three in the corner to give the 'Canes their first lead!
On the ensuing play, Kamari Murphy pulled down a big board and his outlet pass let to 2 shots for Reed, which put the 'Canes up 60-56. Would the 'Canes be able to put the pedal to the metal at the right time and close the game out?
McClellan found Newton in the corner for a wide-open three and the flood gates started to open. Rodriguez had a great steal that led to an easy score on the other end, and the 'Canes opened up a 70-63 lead.
Northeastern fought back, aided by a 4-pt play, and tied the game at 72-72 with just 1:35 to play. If the 'Canes were going to keep their undefeated record intact, it would all come down to how much they could muster up in the waning seconds of the game.
Despite playing with a lot of energy, David Walker scored to give Northeastern a 74-72 lead with just 51.1 left to play. The Huskies extended their lead to 76-72 before Reed nailed a clutch three to bring the 'Canes to within 1 with only 21.8 seconds to play.
The moment perhaps started to get big for Northeastern, and they tossed away an inbounds pass to give the 'Cans the ball, still with 21.8 seconds left in the game.
McClellan took the weight of the moment on his shoulders and scored with a strong move into traffic. Suddenly, with just 15.6 seconds to play, Miami was clinging to the slimmest of leads: 77-76.
Jekiri came up with a monster block and implored the crowd to get into it with just 5.3 seconds left to play.
But, Quincy Ford delivered a ridiculous push off to win the game at the buzzer. Oh well.
The Good: McClellan and Reed down the stretch. What a combination.
The Bad: Somewhat of a repeat of the beginning of last season's early season swoon (say that 10x fast)
The Ugly: Quincy Ford delivered a push-off for the ages. I wonder if ESPN's Robert Smith will cry that the outcome should be overturned.
Next Game: Dec 1st @ Nebraska (ESPNU 9pm)
|Quincy Ford, F||9-17||5-10||1-3||1||5||6||2||4||0||4||3||24|
|Kwesi Abakah, F||1-4||0-0||0-0||2||3||5||1||0||0||0||3||2|
|David Walker, G||4-10||2-4||11-12||0||2||2||3||1||0||2||1||21|
|Zach Stahl, G||3-6||0-0||0-0||1||4||5||0||0||1||4||4||6|
|T.J. Williams, G||1-4||0-2||1-3||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||3|
|Jeremy Miller, F||3-5||2-2||1-1||2||3||5||0||0||0||0||1||9|
|Caleb Donnelly, G||2-2||1-1||0-1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5|
|Devon Begley, G||2-6||2-3||2-2||1||2||3||2||0||0||2||2||8|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes|
|Tonye Jekiri, C||4-8||0-0||0-1||2||10||12||2||0||5||2||2||8|
|Ivan Cruz Uceda, F||1-3||1-3||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||3|
|Angel Rodriguez, G||5-11||1-4||1-1||0||0||0||6||1||0||3||4||12|
|Sheldon McClellan, G||8-12||1-3||1-1||0||1||1||1||1||0||0||3||18|
|Davon Reed, G||7-10||2-5||3-3||1||6||7||4||1||1||2||3||19|
|Kamari Murphy, F||1-2||0-0||0-0||1||5||6||0||0||1||2||3||2|
|Anthony Lawrence Jr., F||0-1||0-0||0-0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Ja'Quan Newton, G||5-7||1-1||2-3||1||1||2||1||1||0||2||4||13|
|James Palmer, G||1-5||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2|
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None - TEAMS: None