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UM vs USC: Running Diary NCAA Tournament First Round

Great start to the tourney!

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Greenville
Jordan Miller with the alley-oop slam. He finished with six points and four rebounds in Miami’s win
Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Like many Canes fans, Mike Schiffman settled in to watch the Canes’ NCAA opener against the USC Trojans. Here’s his running diary from the game

It’s 3:02 pm on the East Coast, I just watched Auburn destroy Jacksonville St, and I have no beer because my fridge decided to stop working yesterday. I am READY for this Miami game. Welcome to my first running diary. Miami Hurricanes vs USC Trojans. Let’s see how this goes!

3:14 – Watching the truTV pregame, from Charles Barkley: “You can’t wear a jersey if you’re a guy. The only people allowed to wear jerseys are ex-players, kids, and hot chicks.” He’s still the best.

3:20 – Barkley picks USC. I feel like that is a good sign for us Canes.

3:23 – Even though the game is on truTV, we have the number one announcing team of Jim Nance, Bill Raftery, and Grant Hill. I’ll take it. Bill Raftery is one of the best college basketball color guys. Welcome to the big time, UM basketball!

3:25 – Tip-off. Miami wearing orange vs the white of USC. Sam Waardenburg with the big block to start on defense! We will need that all game.

3:27 – Nice jumper by Isaiah Wong. Miami leads 2-0.

3:28 – USC is not impressive on offense. Not much creativity or positive movement. Wong gets fouled. He is playing aggressive to start. Good sign.

3:32 – Another miss by Miami. They are playing good defense but cannot get a shot to fall early.

3:33 – Score is tied 4-4 at the under 16-minute timeout. Yikes. Bad offense by both teams.

3:35 – I just watched a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial for the 937th time in the past two days. I don’t think I’ll ever eat there again.

3:36 – Another miss by Miami and then Anthony Walker commits a shooting foul. Ugh. At least Mobley missed the free throws. 3 for 19 combined shooting for both teams.

3:38 – Athletic layup by Wong after breaking the USC press. Hopefully that wakes us up. And another USC turnover. Four on the game. Let’s go!

3:40 – Wong with another athletic layup. Miami leads 10-4. He’s scored all our points! Timeout USC. Finally, some offense. I thought I might doze off for a minute there.

3:42 – Is wearing Sketchers the first official sign of getting old? The commercials make it seem that way.

3:44 – Under 12-minute timeout. USC scored on a well-designed play out of their timeout. Miami leads 10-6.

3:47 – USC coach Andy Enfield doing the in-game interview with Tracy Wolfson all but calls his team a bunch of morons. He is not happy.

3:49 – USC three-pointer. Miami is up 13-12. Wong still has ALL Miami’s points. Kameron McGusty misses his third jumper in a row to start the game. I feel like Miami’s offense is stuck in a time-loop. This is the weirdest game I have watched all season.

3:51 – Miami leads 15-14 at the under 8-minute timeout. We should be up by double digits. Coach Larranaga should be pissed.

Miami v USC
Isaiah Wong with an athletic layup. He led Miami with 22 points.
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

3:53 – Snowpiercer. All new Mondays at 9 on TNT. Think I’ll pass.

3:55 – Jordan Miller with a sweet baseline move for a reverse layup. I love him. He has been great this season.

3:56 – Steal and a layup by Charlie Moore. Back-to-back baskets for him. Miami up 21-14. And another block by Waardenburg!

3:58 – A fourth block by Waardenburg. He is playing out of his mind on defense. Followed by a smooth jumper by McGusty. Freaking finally.

3:59 – Terrible foul call on Waardenburg. That should have been his fifth block.

Miami v USC
Sam Waardenburg with a first-half block vs USC.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

4:00 – Steal by Moore and a layup by McGusty. Timeout USC! Miami leads 27-16. We have found our groove.

4:03 – Purdue is crushing Yale, 78-53 with a minute left. Villanova is up by 10 over Delaware at halftime. Looks like I’m not missing much with the other games.

4:05 – USC averages 12 turnovers per game, and they have 12 turnovers in the first 18 minutes. They don’t seem prepared for Miami’s defensive pressure.

4:07 – Timeout Miami. USC scores four points in a row after some sloppy Miami offense and missed shots. Frustrating. Miami up 29-20.

4:09 – Moore JUST misses a three-quarter court heave at the halftime buzzer. Miami in front 31-20. USC’s 20 points are a season low for a half. Heck yeah. Bathroom and quick snack break. Be back in a few.

Miami v USC
Miami led USC at halftime, 31-20
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

4:13 – A few halftime thoughts: Miami is completely negating USC’s size advantage with their defense and rebounding. They are also outscoring USC in the paint, 18-8. You have to think USC will make some second-half adjustments. Miami will need to make shots more consistently and keep up the pressure defense and defensive rebounding. Overall, a successful first half.

4:15 – Great point by Kenny Smith, to paraphrase: the ACC was disappointing to start the season, however their top teams are peaking now: Duke, UNC, Virginia Tech, and Miami. I concur.

4:18 – 939th Buffalo Wild Wing commercial. Could they make more than two versions to run all weekend? Can we get some variety?

4:21 – Charles Barkley attempts the Griddy dance. It doesn’t go well. Ha-ha. He is a good sport. All the guys are cracking up watching the replays. I don’t care if Charles doesn’t know much about college basketball; he’s the best and should do every pre-game, halftime, and post-game show.

4:26 – Sebastian the mascot is playing the guitar on the sideline. Not sure why he’s doing that, but I like it.

4:31 – Second half begins. Nice jumper by Wong. Puts Miami up 33-25. They needed that after a quick five points for USC.

4:32 – Offensive foul on USC. That’s their 14th turnover. Looks like it could be a Flagrant 1. I would take that. Hopefully this review doesn’t last half an hour.

4:35 – Never mind. Somehow the foul is on McGusty. Leave it to Miami to come away with a foul after a Flagrant 1 review for the opponent. You’ve got to be kidding me. Shooting foul on Wong. That’s his third. Damnit.

4:37 – Another missed jump shot by McGusty, followed by a three-pointer by Isaiah Mobley. McGusty gets his layup blocked, then Mobley gets a fast-break layup. Timeout Miami. This is the worst start possible to the second half. Luckily, Miami still leads 33-32. McGusty’s play might cause me to have a panic attack.

Miami v USC
Kam McGusty shot 5 of 18. I am pretty sure he missed this one.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

4:41 – McGusty cannot buy a bucket. USC with a three-pointer to take the lead, 35-33. I am taking deep breaths.

4:42 – Moore with an airball three-point attempt. Thank goodness for the under 16-minute timeout. Miami looks like they forgot how to play basketball. Do I have any alcohol in the house?

4:44 – No alcohol in the house.

4:46 – Miami is 0/10 on three-pointers. I think that’s bad. Miami almost turns it over, then Waardenburg has to call a timeout holding the ball on the floor. (Sigh).

4:49 – Wong makes all three free-throws after getting fouled on a three-point attempt. Defensive stop followed a made jumper by Wong. Nice! Miami leads 38-37.

4:50 – Three-pointer by Reese Dixon-Waters of USC. They have made six to Miami’s zero.

4:52 – Wong gets fouled on a jump shot again. He is carrying us today. Makes both free-throws. He has 22 points to lead all scorers.

4:53 – Fourth foul on Wong. That hurts. I almost dropped my computer on that foul. McGusty better find his shot, or we are going to lose. USC leads, 42-40.

4:54 – I don’t know anyone that eats at Sonic. There are plenty in Florida, but I never hear anyone saying how much they like Sonic compared to other fast-food places. I’m obviously trying to distract myself from how poorly Miami is playing this half.

4:57 – Grant Hill wonders who will generate offense for Miami with Wong out. I think he has a point after yet another McGusty miss.

4:58 – Steal by Jordan Miller and a throw down by Walker! Woo! He can really get up there.

Miami v USC
Anthony Walker with the strong finish!
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

5:00 – Moore throws an alley-oop to Miller. Exactly what we needed! Miami leads 44-42. Ten minutes left.

5:02 – Moore flops to draw a foul. Whatever, I’ll take it. Miami is in the bonus. Moore makes one of two, of course.

5:04 – Wooga Poplar with a steal and a layup. He has been solid replacing Wong’s minutes.

5:06 – Hard foul by Walker. Love it. Don’t let them get an and-1. Two missed free-throws by Chevez Goodwin of USC! Great foul by Walker.

5:07 – This is the worst I have seen McGusty play all season. It’s almost surreal. Defensive foul on Miller. Miami leads 48-47 at the under eight-minute timeout.

5:09 – I think I blacked out during the commercial break. This game is stressful.

5:10 – Wong is back in the game. (Deep breath).

5:12 – McGusty makes a jump shot! I knew it was possible!

5:12 – Moore finally ends Miami’s three-point drought. Clutch. Miami leads 53-51. Five and a half minutes to play.

5:14 – Wong gets posted up and can’t do much with four fouls. Layup by Goodwin of USC.

5:15 – Moore with a beautiful dump pass to Waardenburg for a layup.

5:16 – Steal by Wong. Followed by a driving layup by Moore. Timeout USC. Miami leads 57-54. Under four minutes to play.

Miami v USC
Charlie Moore with the driving layup.
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

5:17 – I love how Miami has played down the stretch of games this season. Having experienced players who are not scared of the moment has been awesome to watch. I wish we had three sixth-year seniors on the team every season!

5:18 – Notre Dame is beating Alabama at halftime. Virginia Tech is leading in the first half. We need this win to keep up with the other ACC squads!

5:20 – Two made free throws by Moore. Needed those.

5:21 – McGusty with a missed three-pointer. Sadly, I am not surprised.

5:22 – Foul on Wong. That’s his fifth. This stinks. Great game by Isaiah.

Miami v USC
Isaiah Wong fouls out with two minutes left in the game.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

5:23 – McGusty draws a foul on a layup attempt. Let’s see if he can make his free throws. Miami up 59-58. Under two minutes left in the game.

5:25 – McGusty makes both free-throws. Phew. He is 4 for 17 from the field. I’m sweating.

5:26 – HUGE defensive rebound by Moore after a great defensive possession. And a jumper by McGusty goes down! 63-58 Miami. I never had a doubt.

5:27 – USC missed shot and fouls on defense. Two made free throws by Bensley Joseph. Timeout USC.

5:28 – 44 seconds left. Solid defense and some made free throws and we are moving on to play Auburn. Let’s close this one out boys.

5:29 – Three-pointer by Drew Peterson of USC. Turnover by Moore. This just got much closer. Miami leads 65-61. 31.5 seconds left. The sweat has returned. That was only Miami’s third turnover of the game. To say it was bad timing would be an understatement.

5:31 – Another three-pointer by USC’s Peterson. Yikes. Our defense has been terrible these last two possessions.

5:33 – Quick foul by Mobley on USC against Waardenburg. Sam makes one of two. One possession game.

5:34 – Driving layup by USC. Tie game, 66-66. Thirteen seconds left.

5:35 – Moore gets fouled driving to the basket! Three seconds left. Neither team has any timeouts left. He makes both free-throws.

5:36 – USC misses a long three-pointer at the buzzer! Miami pulls it out, 68-66. I’m shaking. I need a few minutes to gather my thoughts. What a game.

Final thoughts: A win is a win. USC is a huge team that played really well the second half. Kam McGusty came up big at the end after missing a hundred jump shots in a row. He must be more consistent against Auburn. Charlie Moore was great on defense as usual, and Isaiah Wong needs to play the same aggressive offensive style on Sunday. Auburn will be a big favorite, however they have lapses at times. Their guards tend to forget they play with next year’s number one pick in the NBA draft in Jabari Smith. Miami’s experience and lack of fear should keep the game close.

I need a drink.