The home regular season may be over for the Hurricanes, but the fans in Coral Gables have plenty left to follow as February closes out and March Madness gets closer and closer.
Playing with out super sixth man Ja'Quan Newton (suspended 3 games), Miami overcame a very tough and determined Louisville team with a gritty 73-65 win at the Bank United Center to move one step closer to an ACC title.
If UNC loses at Virginia this evening, the Hurricanes will move into a tie for first place in the conference.
Equally important they move to 5-2 on the season against ranked teams, and have the look of a team poised for a deep NCAA run.
Both teams came out playing very high level, high intensity basketball from the onset.
The 'Canes were red hot from distance early, canning four of their first five.
Ivan Cruz Uceda, playing his last home game as a Hurricane, had two on his own.
Fellow senior Angel Rodriguez assisted on 4 of UM's first 5 buckets.
And Davon Reed's three ball from the wing made it 14-9 at the first TO.
But the Cardinals kept it close, as they got a lot of early inside production from Chinanu Onuaku.
It was 20-20 10 minutes in before Sheldon McClellan scored on back to back possessions.
And another three by Reed down the stretch of the first stanza temporarily gave the Hurricanes a 5 point lead.
However red hot Quentin Snyder calmly sank his third of the opening half, and again the score was tied.
Very little separated these two teams and both clearly came to play today.
After 20 minutes it was Louisville in the lead 38-36.
Each squad shot over 50% from the field in the first half.
The first three minutes of the second half were all Cardinals.
A 6-0 run was sparked by some incredible defensive effort and punctuated when freshman Deng Adel hit a pull up jumper on the baseline.
Rodriguez finally got the Hurricanes on the board in the final 20 with a pretty reverse lay in, but they were still being frustrated by some air tight Louisville D and some quick whistles against them on the other end of the court.
The Cardinals suddenly built an 8 point lead.
Things were looking rough, but UM's senior PG would not let them falter.
Angel went into bulldog mode and scored two straight times, including an and one, to cut it to 46-43.
The BUC got loud.
And it was even louder when James Palmer scored inside to give UM the lead.
But a horrendous no call on a Tonye Jekiri post move, and a another tough call on the other end that put TJ on the bench with 4 fouls, stemmed the momentum.
A Uceda three was a nice response, but with out Jekiri in the game, Louisville got to the rim at will.
Trey Lewis also knocked in a deep three, and it was 56-51 Louisville at the 8 minute mark.
Things really heated up from there, and it was the Hurricanes who had to final answer.
A McClellan steal led to a Rodriguez lay up, and Sheldon called his own number for a conventional three point play, to tighten things up.
UM trailed by just 1.
The Cards leading scorer Damion Lee, struggled through most of the day. But a couple of clutch buckets by the senior transfer kept this one hot.
The Hurricanes nonetheless took the lead again on two free throws by Jekiri, and it was 63-62 'Canes with just 4 minutes to go.
Miami went in absolute lock down mode from there out, contesting every pass and shot in front of the fired up sold out crowd, to bring this one "home."
A huge Reed three with under a minute to go, capped a 10-0 run.
Big time basketball.
The end of this game was special.
The 'Canes still need a little help (and two road wins) to win a regular season crowd, and doing so with out Newton will be difficult.
But how can you doubt this team after the last two games?