Wong leads Miami past Indiana, into Sweet 16
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — After nearly getting upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Miami had a point to prove. Indiana paid the price.
Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller led a decisive second-half spurt and Miami stormed into the Sweet 16 for the second straight year Sunday night with an 85-69 win over the Hoosiers.
“Our guys were disappointed about the way they played Friday, so we were really ready to show that this is Miami basketball," Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We’re very hard to guard.”
Wong, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year who was limited to five points in a first-round win over Drake, had 27 points and eight rebounds for the Hurricanes (27-7), the only ACC team left in March Madness.
Miller, who had seven points on Friday, scored 19, and Indianapolis native Nijel Pack had 10 of his 12 points in the first half as fifth-seeded Miami got off to a fast start, led most of the game and ended Indiana’s hopes of a sixth national title.
Miami will face top-seeded Houston in the Midwest Region semifinals in Kansas City, Missouri, on Friday.
“I told the team beforehand the ACC needs to be well represented today. And we did,” Larrañaga said.
All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Hoosiers (23-12), who have not been to the Sweet 16 since 2016. Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino added 19 points and Race Thompson had 11.
Miami needed 16-1 run in the final five minutes to beat Drake. There was another late run this time but it was more composed and not as desperate.
Indiana coach Mike Woodson — who called a timeout less than two minutes into the game with his team trailing 6-0 — gave all the credit to Miami, which held a 42-26 rebounding advantage.
“They played their butts off tonight,” he said. “It was a well-coached game, and I thought they were the better team. They showed it first half and second half. I thought when we got back in it, we didn’t do the things to put us in position once we got the lead to win this game.”
Miami didn’t lose the lead until Indiana went on a 13-0 run bridging the halves to push ahead 43-40. The game was tied at 49-all when Miller, who spent a great deal of time denying Jackson-Davis the ball, hit a layup to ignite a 16-4 burst. Wong hit two 3-pointers and Miller had seven points during that stretch.
Miami led 69-60 when Wong drilled a 3 late in the shot clock, Bensley Joseph followed with a steal, and Miller fed Joseph in the corner for a wide-open 3 that made it 75-60 with 3:23 left.
"We won the game two days ago, and today I performed well," said Wong, who was 7 of 15 from the field and 4 of 6 from long range. “I appreciate the team for that helping me out, getting me passes and getting me in the rhythm.”
Miller downplayed the feeling of some that Miami is underappreciated.
“At the end of the day, all we can do is just come out and win basketball games,” he said. “I feel like winning a game in itself is a way to get recognition. We’re going to the Sweet 16. That’s a lot of recognition.”
Miami: The Hurricanes shared the ACC regular-season title with Virginia, which lost to Furman in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Miami fell in the conference tournament to Duke, which was beaten by Tennessee in the second round Saturday. Pittsburgh was eliminated by Xavier earlier Sunday, making Miami the lone ACC team.
Indiana: Woodson has taken the Hoosiers to the NCAA Tournament in both years on the job. It might be tough next year without Jackson-Davis, Thompson and Miller Kopp.
“Just two years ago, we were getting booed in our home city, Indianapolis, off the court in the Big Ten Tournament,” Jackson-Davis said. “Just being in this moment two years later, it’s really special. It’s really special to me to have the Indiana fans on your back and just cheering for you and giving them hope.”
Another win would put Miami in its second straight Elite Eight. Larrañaga has been to the Final Four once, in his previous job at George Mason.
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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