Live! vs. Miami

Live! vs. Miami

AUSTIN, Texas  — Shane Larkin hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left and Miami kept possession on a ball knocked out of bounds that probably should have gone to Illinois, helping the Hurricanes hold on for a 63-59 victory Sunday night to advance to the NCAA round of 16.

After Larkin’s first field goal in about 9 1/2 minutes, D.J. Richardson missed a three-pointer. In the fight for the rebound, the ball appeared to ricochet off the hands of Miami’s Kenny Kadji out of bounds. But the Hurricanes kept the ball, and Durand Scott made two free throws after that.

Miami (29-6) is in the round of 16 for only the second time in school history. The Hurricanes play Marquette (25-8) in Washington D.C. on Thursday night.

Larkin, the only non-senior starter for Miami and the ACC player of the year, finished with 17 points. Rion Brown had 21 with five 3s.
Brandon Paul had 18 points for Illionis (23-13). — AP

ILLINOIS (23-13)
McLaurin 0-2 0-0 0, Richardson 1-11 2-2 5, Paul 8-20 0-0 18,  Abrams 3-10 2-3 8, Egwu 5-9 2-2 12, Bertrand 2-3 0-0 4, Henry 0-0 0-0 0,  Griffey 4-6 0-0 12. Totals 23-61 6-7 59.
MIAMI (29-6)
Larkin 5-12 4-5 17, Scott 2-8 2-2 6, McKinney Jones 1-3 0-0 3,  Kadji 4-11 2-6 10, Gamble 1-2 0-0 2, Brown 7-14 2-2 21,  Jekiri 2-4 0-0 4, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 10-15 63.
Halftime—Miami 29-26. 3-Point Goals—Illinois 7-27 (Griffey 4-6, Paul  2-9, Richardson 1-10, Abrams 0-2), Miami 9-25 (Brown 5-10, Larkin 3-7,  McKinney Jones 1-3, Kadji 0-1, Scott 0-4). Fouled Out—Richardson.  Rebounds—Illinois 38 (Egwu 12), Miami 35 (Kadji 8). Assists—Illinois 7  (Abrams, Paul, Richardson 2), Miami 12 (Larkin 5). Total Fouls—Illinois  17, Miami 10. A—14,520.

No. 7 Illinois 37, No. 2 Miami 36 — 10:54 second half

Holy Tracy Abrams. Reminds of that dunk he had in traffic last year. I think it was against Nebraska, maybe. Looks like his leg is OK.

Remember when this was a track meet early? The scoring has slowed considerably.

Tyler Griffey started the second half for the Illini in place of Sam McLaurin. Not a shocker, considering how well Griffey played in the first half.

Brandon Paul continued to attack the basket early in the second half, his missed layup leading to a Nnanna Egwu tip back.

Paul is playing like a pro tonight. He’s at his best when he’s attacking the basket with confidence. He’s playing like he doesn’t want his career to end at both ends of the floor.

The Illini managers, for some reason, are not allowed to sit on the bench. They’re sitting right behind me here in the front row.

The end of the LaSalle-Ole Miss game was shown here during the under-16 timeout. Stephen Bardo is fired up for former Illinois assistant John Ginannini.

The Minnesota fans stuck around and are cheering for the Illini.

Is it me or does Illinois seem to have a lot of shots go in and out?

Should be a fun one down the stretch here. I’m just hoping for no overtime. Tight deadline here.

No. 2 Miami 29, No. 7 Illinois 26 — Halftime

Good things happen when Brandon Paul takes the ball to the rack. He’s so strong that he can be impossible to stop at times. His length-of-the court drive and bucket at the buzzer gave the Illini some momentum heading into the locker room.

At times the Illini are sending three defenders at Shane Larkin. John Groce said something about Larkin yesterday and the head of a snake. They’re trying to cut the head off of the Miami snake.

The pace of the game slowed a little bit after that flurry in the first 10 minutes. I was tired just watching.

Miami went on a 9-0 run after the Illini went on their three-point barrage.

Just after TNT did a sideline report about the Peoria Pipeline, D.J. Richardson was whistled for his second foul.

Joseph Bertrand, who just turned 22, is doing Joseph Bertrand tings, skying for rebounds and hitting floaters. Joe has gone from wearing a big black sleeve on his injured right shoulder to white tape to now flesh-colored tape. I’m told he’s pretty healthy. He’s got his confidence back.

Tyler Griffey has been impressive for the Illini. He’s at his best when being aggressive. He was called for a soft foul defending in the post.

Illinois fans behind me are not happy with the way this one is being called.

The national champion Texas volleyball team was honored at halftime.

The Illini shot 11 for 28 (39.3 percent) from the floor and 4 for 10 from deep. Griffey leads with nine points. Brandon Paul has eight.

Miami shot 12 for 28 (42.9 percent) from the floor and 5 for 14 (35.7 percent) from deep.

Larkin (four assists) and Rion Brown each have eight points to lead the Canes.

The rebounds are even at 17, with each team grabbing five on the offensive end. Illinois has scored six second-chance points. Miami, none.

Illinois has two points off four Miami turnovers. The Hurricanes have seven points off six Illinois turnovers.

The Texas national champion volleyball team was just honored. 

Maybe Kevin Hambly will be doing that with his team soon.

No. 7 Illinois 18, No. 2 Miami 16 — 9:12 first half

When Brandon Paul hoisted a three-pointer on the first possession of the game, D.J. Richardson ran to the other end holding three fingers in the air. Brandon missed the shot.

The Illini are 4 of 7 from long range since.

Nnanna Egwu took three early shots. The Illinois big man isn’t scared to get shots up.

They’re showing the Florida Gulf Coast-San Diego State game here during timeouts. I saw a couple Miami players look up at it. The Canes are ecstatic the Eagles are doing well. It makes their loss to them earlier in the season not seem so bad.

When the score was announced here, the Miami contingent stood and cheered. I wonder if Andy Enfield will get a look from Jim Phillips at Northwestern.

Miami has shot at least four air balls so far.

Birthday boy Joseph Bertrand had a nice offensive rebound and putback.

Brandon Paul has taken a couple of questionable shots and he’s missed pretty badly on a couple of them. He needs to settle down, Illini need him under control making plays.

Tyler Griffey has made like Ryan Kelly against the Hurricanes, taking and making a bunch of threes. Griffey is 3 for 3 from deep and he’s got five rebounds already.

Sam McLaurin has struggled on the offensive end so far. He’s got three turnovers, really struggling with ball security.

Great energy in the building.

NCAA tournament: No. 2 Miami (28-6) vs. No. 7 Illinois (23-12) — Tipoff (TNT)

Forgot to mention this earlier, but Larkin isn’t very big. He’s listed at 5-11, but he might be closer to 5-9. Not that it matters a great deal. He’s still really good.

Illinois will go with the same starting lineup of Tracy Abrams, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Sam McLaurin and Nnanna Egwu.

Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson did their halfcourt thing with about nine minutes on the clock before the game. D.J. made one and got a big cheer. Brandon never got one to drop. Might be the last time they ever do that. I said that before the Colorado game, too.

Former Illini Stephen Bardo is sitting courtside. He made the trip to Austin for tonight’s game. The ESPN analyst thinks this is a real tough matchup for the Illini, but he’s a huge fan of the direction of the program under Groce.

““I think a lot of the credit goes to John Groce because we saw some similar trends from last year to this year, but for some reason they were able to right the ship and improve,” Bardo said. “The win at home against Indiana was a tremendous effort and victory for the program in general. A lot of the credit has to go to John Groce.”

My phone just went nuts. I was on TV right behind the TNT/CBS crew.

The PA guy announced Mike Shaw instead on Nnanna Egwu in the starting lineup. Hilarity ensued. It took a minute for them to get everything figured out.

NCAA tournament: No. 2 Miami (28-6) vs. No. 7 Illinois (23-12) — 8:04 p.m. tipoff (TNT)

The Minnesota-Florida game ended at 7:31. The Illini and Canes will tip at 8:04.

The families of the Illinois coaching staff have arrived in their seats. They’re sitting right behind us here.

The coaches’ kids were openly cheering their little hearts out for the Gophers. So is the Illinois band.

All the cheering wasn’t enough. The Gopers, who trailed by as many as 23 points, cut the lead to seven, but Florida was able to withstand the run. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with Tubby Smith in the coming days. A lot of rumors about his future at the school.

I’m pretty certain Trevor Mbakwe won’t be back. The sixth-year senior is finallyout of eligibility — I think. Maybe he’ll have a chat with Emmert about allowing him to come back.

NCAA president Mark Emmert is here watching the action from courtside. He’s two seats down from the Florida bench. Billy Donovan probably had to keep his emotions in check as a result.

An interesting note from Miami’s game Friday against Pacific. The Hurricanes had it so much under control that Shane Larkin only played 29 minutes. It was the first time this season he played fewer than 30 minutes. He’ll be rested for today.

“I looked at a stat sheet after the game and I was dry when I came into the locker room. It was a new feeling for me; that’s the first time I played under 30 minutes the whole season,” Larkin said. “It was a humbling feeling knowing that we got it done, but at the same time, I love playing basketball.”

NCAA tournament: No. 2 Miami (28-6) vs. No. 7 Illinois (23-12) — 7:40 p.m. tipoff (TNT)

Minnesota trailed at the half 48-27 after making a brief run, but Florida stormed right back. Florida’s dance squad and cheerleaders are here and they’re winning, too.

Twitter tells me Mack Brown gave the Gophers a pep talk before today’s game. That’s not working out so well. I’m sure the unhappy football fans down here have a joke or two to insert.

The Texas men’s golf team was just honored here during halftime for winning the 2012 national championship. Perhaps Thomas Pieters, the individual champion, and Mike Small can bring one back to Champaign-Urbana this season.

Hard to think about golf in the Midwest, considering the serious snowstorm that’s happening right now back home. I’m told the state police have issued an emergency-only driving mandate. Be careful out there, folks.

Back to basketball, Illinois is worried about Miami’s size today. The Hurricanes are worried about Illinois’ ability to get hot from the outside.

“They shoot a lot of threes. They have great guard play, Griffey can step out and shoot the three as a 4 man,” Miami’s outstanding point guard Shane Larkin said. “We just have to rebound and run. If they get hot, they can score a lot of points on you early so we just have to run them off the three-point line early in the game.”

Remember, Duke’s Ryan Kelly went nuts on the Canes from deep a couple weeks ago. The Blue Devils’ big man hit seven three-pointers in scoring 36 in a win over the Hurricanes.

Truthfully, the Illini are pretty much playing with house money now. Getting to the tournament was an achievement, winning a game was unexpected and an overachievement considering where the program was a year ago.

Some of the Illinois players are sitting in the stands here at the Erwin Center to watch some of the Florida-Minnesota game. The Illini will wear blue tonight.

Sounds like most fans here are rooting for Minnesota to come back. Gophers are down 10 with 15:33 left and Trevor Mbakwe was just called for a very questionable foul on a blocked shot.

Illini fans standing and applauding the Gophers.

I'll be back with another update at the end of the first game.

NCAA tournament: No. 2 Miami (28-6) vs. No. 7 Illinois (23-12) — 7:40 p.m. tipoff (TNT)

Good evening from the Erwin center where tonight the Illini will play for a right to reach the program’s first Sweet 16 since 2005.

It won’t be easy. Miami is big and the Hurricanes are good.

It’s been a great run so far for the Big Ten in the postseason. Jim Delany’s league is 10-1 so far, though Minnesota is getting worked right in front of me right now by Florida.The Gophers were impressive Friday night in a win against UCLA, which looks like it was Ben Howland’s last game coaching the Bruins.

It’s another packed house here at the Erwin Center tonight. Florida and Minnesota are each well-represented and Illinois fans are already here in full force.

Former Illini Stephen Bardo is here sitting courtside, typing away on his iPhone.

Looks like I’ll be sitting in the “Hey, you’re on TV seats” tonight. I’m stationed right behind Tim Brando and Mike Gminski. I apologize that you have to see me.

Spent some time around the Illini yesterday, and as they’ve been for all of the postseason, John Groce guys are confident. They know few are giving them a chance, but they’ve proven they can beat anyone and they’re ready to come in here to slay another giant.

“We’re not intimidated by anyone,” Brandon Paul said.

Two of the giants that the Illini took down this season were tested mightily today.

Ohio State needed a favorable charge call and a three-pointer from Aaron Craft with 0.5 seconds left to upend Iowa State in Dayton. Indiana went down to the wire in the same building to finally outlast Temple.

I got word that, due to the awesome weather you all are getting back in central Illinois, the Illini will not be traveling back home tonight. Usually, the NCAA makes teams go home the night of the game, but the snow has forced them to stay here.

It’s probably a good thing. They wouldn’t have got back to town until about 3 a.m. and that just ruins your whole Monday.

I’m hopping on the pregame show with the great Steve Kelly from here at courtside. I’ll be back with another update shortly.

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LoyalIllini wrote on March 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

attack mode is working ... step it up egwu.

rk7408 wrote on March 24, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Really proud of the way the whole team battled. Really irritated at the ref for missing a blatant call at the end. Changed the entire way the last minute was played. Inexcusable to miss a call like that.

Thought they were gonna pull it off.

uswtmb47 wrote on March 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

 I really liked the fight in our Illini tonight.  I thought they out played them and just couldn't make enough 3s.  It's a shame DJ had to end his college career like that but they should be proud of their effort. 

The future looks really bright for this team with Groce as the head coach.  .I expect in the coming years we're going to be at the other end of games like tonight.

Go Illini!

beekay wrote on March 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

DJ just seemed to have a problem elevating on his 3 pointers...but he was really good defensively.  Nothing to be ashamed of after that effort.  We fought hard to the end against a very good team. So close.