Jim Larranaga

Return to Verizon Center special for Miami’s Jim Larranaga (VIDEO)

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Miami coach Jim Larranaga has fond memories of the Verizon Center. It was the place that he notched wins in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight during George Mason’s magical run to the Final Four in 2006. He now returns with a Hurricanes team that is looking to do the same.

“Coming into this building to them it’s just another venue,” Larranaga said, as reported by CSNWashington.com. “To me and my staff it’s not because we have the memory. They don’t. They want to create those memories for themselves and for this team.”

Miami will be at a disadvantage when it takes the floor against Marquette in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C., as center Reggie Johnson did not make the trip with the team due to a knee injury and subsequent knee surgery. But throughout the season the Hurricanes have shown that they can win at multiple paces, often getting out in transition to match a high-scoring team or slowing it down to play possession-by-possession against a defensive-oriented team.

We’ll see if Larranaga can find the magic again at the Verizon Center this time around. If he does, his Hurricanes will likely be in the Elite Eight.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.