Survival-mode remained the name of the game in Providence as the third-seeded Miami Hurricanes squandered a 21-point lead, but rallied late for a second-round victory over upset-minded, eleventh-seeded Wichita State, 65-57.
Angel Rodriguez again took over for the Canes soon after the tide turned and the Shockers went ahead 43-42 with 10:24 remaining; their first lead of the game.
Ron Baker his a the go-ahead three-pointer for Wichita State, but Miami responded—by way of a Ja’Quan Newton dunk; momentum back in the Canes favor, leading to eight straight points from Sheldon McClellan and some breathing room.
McClellan failed to convert a lob from Rodriguez with under three remaining and the Canes nursing a four-point lead, but an acrobatic lay-up from Rodriguez, followed by a clutch three-pointer from the wing had Miami in business—up 60-53 with 74 seconds remaining.
Free throws sealed it for the Canes late; Rodriguez hitting 5-of-6 in the game’s final 43 seconds. The senior guard finished with a career-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting; including 3-of-4 from beyond-the-arc. McClellan followed with 18 points, going 5-of-11 and 2-of-4 from three-point range.
The duo again proved clutch from the free throw line; a combined 13-of-16.
While the successful outing of Rodriguez and McClellan as no surprise, the struggles of Baker and Fred VanVleet were unexpected—the veteran duo a combined 8-of-24 shooting of 23 points; VanVleet going 1-of-6 from three-point range, as well.
Miami’s dominating 32-19 halftime lead was the result of some aggressive, clutch play early, while Wichita State struggled to convert. While the Canes shot 60-percent in the first half, the Shockers were a paltry 24.1-percent; 7-of-29 on field goals.
Miami dipped to 50-percent in the second half, but still won the battle against a stingy Wichita State defense, leading the nation by giving up an average of 58.9 points-per-game, while ranked fifth in field goal percentage defense as 38.3-percent.
With the victory the Canes punched their ticket to their first Sweet 16 since the 2013 season; the last time they made the NCAA Tournament. Second-seeded Miami’s run ended with a loss to third-seeded Marquette, by way of as slow start it never recovered from.
This year’s Sweet fate will be decided in Louisville later next week, facing off against the winner of second-seeded Villanova and seventh-seeded Iowa. With a victory, the Canes would enter the weekend’s Elite Eight, going toe-to-toe with whoever comes out of the Kansas / Connecticut and Maryland / Hawai’i bracket.