Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Marquette is headed to the Elite Eight for
the first time in a decade thanks to a terrific shooting effort and a
stifling defense that held Miami-Florida in check.
Jamil Wilson led the way with 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks as
the Golden Eagles rolled through the Hurricanes, 71-61, in the first East
Vander Blue and Davante Gardner each chipped in 14 points for the third-seeded
Golden Eagles (26-8), who were in this round for the third straight year but
advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2003, when Dwyane Wade
led them all the way to the Final Four.
"This whole Elite Eight thing, this is everybody from coach (Buzz) Williams,
to our weight trainer, to Adrian, our academic advisor. It's going about
business and never getting comfortable," Blue said. "It's about this group of
guys that is so relentless and we never want to give up. ... We can celebrate
this now but we're hungry for more."
Next on the Eagles' plate is a familiar dish in Syracuse on Saturday. The
fourth-seeded Orange knocked off top-seeded Indiana in Thursday's nightcap.
Marquette, which earned a share of the Big East regular season title for the
first time, led by as many as 22 on Thursday and proved its effectiveness at
both ends, as it made 54 percent from the field while holding the ACC regular
season and tourney champions to 35 percent shooting.
Miami (29-7) was making just its second Sweet 16 appearance and fell in an
early hole it never climbed out of despite a roster filled with upperclassmen.
Senior Durand Scott, who came in averaging over 13 points per game, shot just
3-of-13 from the floor for 10 points, while Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadji had
14 and 11 points, respectively, for the East's No. 2 seed.
Marquette, which won its tourney games over Davidson and Butler by a combined
three points, was in control from start to finish at Verizon Center.
The Eagles forced the Hurricanes into six straight misses and four turnovers
during an early seven-minute scoring drought, and their subsequent 10-0 run
had them ahead, 12-4.
Miami's slow start stretched the entire first half, as it missed all but one
of 11 3-point attempts in being held to a season-low 16 points at
"We didn't have the juice that you need to play great basketball. It started
right from the very beginning, you could see it. It never really improved,"
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said.
Blue had half that total in the opening 20 minutes, and his deep jumper just
before the buzzer gave Marquette a 29-16 cushion.
The margin reached 18 after Wilson drained a triple for a 41-23 lead five
minutes into the second half, and although Miami picked up the pace
offensively after the break, the Eagles did as well. Marquette hit 10 of its
first 12 shots and pushed the difference to 51-30 on Blue's runner near the
midway point of the period.
A 7-0 run by the Hurricanes was answered by buckets from Wilson and Gardner,
and the Eagles cruised the rest of the way. Miami made four 3-pointers in the
final two-plus minutes to make the final score somewhat respectable.
"We had a great season but we're just disappointed in what happened tonight,"
Marquette is one of just four programs (Kansas, Florida and Ohio State) to
reach the Sweet 16 the last three years ... Saturday will be the Eagles'
seventh regional championship game ... Chris Otule scored 11 points and Trent
Lockett added eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Golden Eagles
.... Miami's only other Sweet 16 appearance came in 2000 and ended in a loss
to Tulsa ... The Hurricanes came in averaging 69.9 points per game ... Rion
Brown, who had 21 points in Miami's third-round win over Illinois, was held to
five points on 2-of-12 shooting ... These teams had met four times previously,
with each winning twice on its home court ... Marquette won the only meeting
with Syracuse this season on Feb. 25.
The Sports Network