Miami fends off Syracuse to advance to ACC quarterfinals
NEW YORK (AP) — If there was any doubt about their NCAA Tournament fate, the Miami Hurricanes probably put it to rest Wednesday.
As for the Syracuse Orange, however, they’ll be sweating out Selection Sunday.
Kamari Murphy had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his return home to Brooklyn, and Miami held off Syracuse 62-57 in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
The ninth-seeded Hurricanes (21-10) advanced to play top-seeded and sixth-ranked North Carolina in the first quarterfinal Thursday, seemingly solidifying their second consecutive trip to the NCAAs.
“We put it all together,” Murphy said. “Great win for us.”
Meanwhile, the Orange took an untimely loss that could prove costly.
No. 8 seed Syracuse (18-14) fell to 0-3 in the ACC Tournament and 2-11 this season away from home, a mark that might not go over very well with the committee that sets the 68-team field for the NCAAs.
“It’s up to them. My opinion doesn’t matter,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “Every coach in the country that’s on the bubble thinks his team should get in.”
Boeheim remained tied on the NCAA list with fellow Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight at 902 career Division I wins. They trail only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who has 1,067.
Boeheim’s 902-356 record reflects 101 wins vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
Davon Reed added 14 points for Miami, and Ja’Quan Newton had 11 points and six assists. Newton’s driving layup extended the Hurricanes’ lead to 59-55 with 16 seconds left.
John Gillon had a chance to tie it for Syracuse, but his hurry-up 3-point attempt barely grazed the rim with two seconds to play.
“He’s made two of them this year. Maybe it just wasn’t in the cards to make the third one,” Boeheim said. “It was the absolute right play.”
Andrew White III had 22 points for Syracuse, and Tyus Battle scored 14. White was coming off a career-high 40 points in a blowout win over Georgia Tech last Saturday, when he was 8 for 9 from 3-point territory. Miami held White to 1 for 6 from beyond the arc.
DJ Vasiljevic scored 13 points off the bench for the Hurricanes. He hit two 3-pointers midway through the second half that helped them regain momentum after the Orange briefly moved in front by one, drawing roars from a partisan crowd that included Syracuse great John Wallace.
Reed barely beat the shot clock on a 3 that gave Miami a 51-44 advantage with 7:07 left.
Battle missed a dunk with 2:38 remaining that would have shaved Syracuse’s deficit to one. On the other end, Newton found Murphy for a dunk that made it 57-52.
“As the season progressed, we’ve been able to pull out some close games, and we showed that same type of resilience today,” Reed said. “We just stayed poised throughout the stretch.”
Miami: Led for more than 36 minutes and avenged a 70-55 loss at Syracuse on Jan. 4. … The Hurricanes dropped their final two regular-season games on the road, but they have impressive wins over North Carolina, Virginia and Duke.
Syracuse: After a surprising run to the Final Four last year, the Orange must hope that quality wins over Florida State, Duke and Virginia while each was ranked in the top 10 will be enough on Selection Sunday to overcome ugly losses to Georgetown, St. John’s and Boston College earlier this season. “I know our profile is better this year than it was last year in terms of top wins,” Boeheim said.
HOME SWEET HOME
Murphy played at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, just a few miles from Barclays Center, site of this year’s ACC Tournament.
“I think it’s a lot more important for him to have a great tournament,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “He got off to a great start with a tremendous performance today.”
Murphy began the day averaging 7.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. A 59 percent free-throw shooter, he was 4 of 4 from the line.
“I put it all together,” he said.
BACK IN THE BIG APPLE
Both coaches know their way around New York City.
Larranaga grew up in the Bronx and played in the 1960s at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, the same school that later produced ACC greats Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson.
Boeheim, meanwhile, was a big winner for years at Madison Square Garden. Back when Syracuse was in the Big East, he took the school to a record 15 appearances in the conference championship game.
Miami shot 62 percent in the first half, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range, and went into halftime leading 36-28. But the Hurricanes missed eight of their first nine attempts coming out of the break and shot 30 percent in the second period. … Vasiljevic single-handedly outscored Syracuse’s two reserves 13-2. … Miami outrebounded the Orange 31-26 and did not allow any second-chance points.
Miami: Defeated North Carolina 77-62 at home on Jan. 28. “A lot of people are picking them to win the national championship. So we know we’re the underdog,” Larranaga said.
Syracuse: Hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
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