Aside from perhaps Michigan point guard Trey Burke, Miami’s Shane Larkin has proven himself to be the biggest breakout star at that position this season. Sunday night with his team’s postseason fate on the line, Larkin took a fearless step-back three-pointer with 1:04 to play and nailed it to give his team a two-point lead, only fitting for a player in the midst of the biggest season of his career.
That Larkin three and his two free throws with 15.6 seconds to play held off a pesky and talented Illinois team, 63-59, at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, to punch the Hurricanes’ ticket to the Sweet 16. He finished with 17 points.
Larkin added five assists, the beneficiary of many of those being Miami guard Rion Brown, who led the Hurricanes in scoring with 21 points off the bench.
But this win will not be without some controversy. With 42 seconds to play, the ball went out of bounds as the two teams fought for a rebound, appearing to touch Miami forward Kenny Kadji before falling to the baseline. To Illinois’ dismay, it was ruled Miami ball and is considered a non-reviewable play.
Miami showed again Sunday what it has been out to prove all season. Regardless of the pace that a team tries to play at, the Hurricanes can adapt and often find a way to win. Illinois wanted to slow the game down and play at a Big Ten pace, but Miami reverted to the same style of play that won it games in the middle of ACC play against Clemson and Virginia.
Though the Hurricanes only shot 40 percent from the floor, they were able to grab 12 offensive rebounds and score on second-chance opportunities. Miami now moves on to play Marquette, a team that has squeaked by in two close wins over Davidson and Butler. The Golden Eagles have been led by clutch performances in both by guard Vander Blue.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.
The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.
It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.
Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.
The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.
Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.
“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”
It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.