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Report: Miami coach Jim Larranaga receives grand jury subpoena for FBI’s college basketball investigation

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Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has received a grand jury subpoena as the FBI continues its investigation into corruption in college basketball. According to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, Larranaga received a subpoena for texts, emails and other items.

Larranaga’s attorneys told Fenno that the veteran head coach has done nothing wrong. “There’s nothing there,” Larranaga’s attorney said to Fenno. “We’re trying to get them to admit they made a mistake and move on.”

While Larranaga and Miami have previously cooperated with the FBI in turning over phone records and documents in a report from Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel on Oct. 3, the news of a subpoena makes things far more serious.

FBI documents about the scandal don’t specifically mention Larranaga or Miami by name but the school was identified as one of the universities referenced with Adidas allegedly paying players. Miami confirmed the FBI investigation on Sept. 27, stating, “We have confirmed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that, at this time, it is investigating a potential tie to one member of our coaching staff and a student recruit.”

One wiretapped conversation, according to the FBI’s investigation, included a discussion into how much money it would take for a top recruit — believed to be North Carolina 2018 commit Nassir Little — to play at Miami as part of a bidding war.

Miami highlights subtle recruiting move in press release for schedule

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Miami unveiled its non-conference schedule on Thursday and it is a pretty standard slate of games that doesn’t feature many challenges. Since the Hurricanes are going to face all the NCAA tournament competition that they need in the ACC, there is really no reason to have an insane non-conference schedule that could give the Hurricanes a lot of unnecessary losses.

But Miami did schedule some of its non-conference games based on recruiting. Head coach Jim Larrañaga even acknowledged as much in the school’s official release.

“We have two games that we have scheduled for particular reasons with this group. First, we are going to be traveling to Reading, Pa., to play La Salle University out of Philadelphia, to bring Lonnie Walker IV, one of our outstanding incoming freshmen, back to his hometown,” Larrañaga said in the release. “We will also be playing in Washington, D.C., against George Washington University. That is the hometown of another outstanding [incoming] freshman, Chris Lykes.”

This isn’t anything new when it comes to recruiting — schools have been scheduling games in the hometowns of their players for years. What is unique is that Miami chose to include these quotes as one of the first things in an official press release.

Schools don’t usually do this sort of subtle recruiting in press releases but the Hurricanes focused on this part.

Lonnie Walker could be a one-and-done if he has a breakout freshman season. He also undoubtedly appreciates the chance to play a college game in his hometown in what could be his only college season. A home game during college isn’t the only reason elite recruits pick a school, but it is certainly an intelligent move by Miami to spotlight something like this in any way they can.

No. 15 Florida State earns second seed in ACC Tournament

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Dwayne Bacon scored 23 points, Jarquez Smith added 11 and No. 15 Florida State clinched a double bye in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament with a 66-57 victory over No. 25 Miami on Saturday.

The Seminoles (24-7, 12-6) will be the second seed for the tournament, which begins Tuesday at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. It is their highest seeding since they were second in 1993. Florida State, Louisville and Notre Dame are tied for second but the Seminoles have the higher seed based on a better combined record over the Irish and Cardinals.

The win also gives Florida State its first unbeaten home season since 1977-76. It is 18-0 at the Tucker Center and has won 21 straight dating to last season.

Davon Reed led the Hurricanes (20-10, 10-8) with 22 points and Bruce Brown had 10.

The first half saw five ties and nine lead changes as Florida State led 37-34 at halftime.

Reed started the second half with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 37 before FSU went on a 12-3 run to take control. Smith, who was one of two seniors playing his final home game, had five points during the run.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: The Hurricanes are still looking for their first March win over a ranked team in Jim Larranaga’s six years as coach. The loss to FSU dropped them to 0-7.

Florida State: The Seminoles have won both regular-season games against Miami for the fifth time in ACC play and first time since 2011.

UP NEXT

Miami: ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday against an opponent to be determined.

Florida State: ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday against an opponent to be determined.

 

No. 18 Virginia collapses in stunning overtime loss to Miami

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Freshman Bruce Brown knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with under 30 seconds left on Monday night as Miami captured a key ACC road win over N0. 18 Virginia with a 54-48 overtime win.

Miami used a 9-2 run in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime as they looked dead for most of the game on offense. The Hurricanes only managed to shoot 36 percent from the field and 21 percent from three-point range but they were bailed out by going 20-for-22 from the free-throw line. Brown only had two field goals but finished with a team-high 14 points while Kamari Murphy (10 points, nine rebounds), Dejan Vasiljevic (10 points) and Davon Reed (nine points) also provided offense.

The Hurricanes (19-8, 9-6) entered this game having only two top-50 wins this season so this is a huge NCAA tournament booster for them as it should give Miami a lot more confidence heading into the home stretch. Miami still has a tough schedule the last weeks of the regular season but it also gives them more opportunities to get quality wins and grab a better seed.

For Miami to also win this one — and go 3-0 — without starting point guard Ja’Quan Newton during his suspension is also a testament to how much this team has improved. Newton’s offense should help the Hurricanes quite a bit and they get another test against Duke on Saturday.

Virginia (18-9, 8-7) lost for the fourth consecutive game as they continue a recent freefall that has exposed its offensive issues. For a team that has competed for the ACC regular season title lately, they are now just one game over .500 in the ACC entering the final stretch of the regular season.

Senior point guard London Perrantes (2-for-15, four points) struggled to find his shot on Monday as Devon Hall led Virginia’s offense with 15 points. For awhile it looked like Virginia would be able to win just by holding Miami in the 30s but the Hurricanes generated enough late offense to creep back in.

On a night when Malcolm Brogdon was in the house to get his number retired, this Virginia team once again showed how badly they miss having a go-to scorer like him from last season. They don’t have a closer, and although Perrantes has hit some big shots, he needs help setting them up if he gets crowded by a defender.

This year’s Virginia team can sometimes still manage wins just by slowing things down and trying to get stops. That means they are also susceptible to getting run out of the gym against good offensive teams because this team really struggles to put up points right now. It also means they have a difficult time closing teams out as we saw on Monday night with Miami’s late comeback.

ACC teams might be more familiar with Virginia’s scheme and personnel than normal programs and it will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers look during the quick turnaround of the NCAA tournament.

Three Takeaways from Miami’s big ACC win over No. 9 North Carolina

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Miami continued the early chaos in the ACC on Saturday as the Hurricanes jumped out to a huge early lead and cruised past No. 9 North Carolina for a 77-62 win.

1. This is the big ACC win Miami needed for its NCAA tournament cause

Entering Saturday’s home game, Miami owned three wins in the ACC but none of them had come against top-tier teams. The Hurricanes had beaten N.C. State, Pitt and Boston College. Marquee non-conference wins looked even worse for Miami. They had only beaten Stanford and George Washington. Not exactly an inspiring group of wins…

Saturday’s trouncing of No. 9 North Carolina changes all of that. Miami put a beatdown on a top-10 team and made the Tar Heels look relatively helpless for most of the game. The Hurricanes passed the look test and it legitimately felt like they belonged in the NCAA tournament for the first time all season.

Miami’s defense and North Carolina’s shooting woes led the a season-low 22 first-half points from the Tar Heels and junior point guard Joel Berry was held to only two points on 0-for-8 shooting. The Hurricanes beat North Carolina on the glass 40-35 and also outplayed the Tar Heels inside.

Miami’s perimeter performance was particularly special. Freshman Bruce Brown poured in a career-high 30 points (more on him below) and junior Ja’Quan Newton had 18 while Davon Reed chipped in 14 points. That group soundly outplayed North Carolina’s guards and also helped limit the Tar Heels to 29 percent (7-for-24) three-point shooting.

2. Should we be worried about Joel Berry?

North Carolina needs junior point guard Joel Berry to be the engine that makes this team go. He was arguably the team’s best guard during the stretch run for last season’s Final Four team and Berry has had some great games earlier this season.

The last four games, however, Berry has been sluggish as it all came to a head with his two-point outing on Saturday. Over his last four games, Berry is only putting up 9.0 points and 2.7 assists per game as his offense has drastically declined. Berry hasn’t looked like he’s been within the flow of the game for some of the time despite handling the ball.

Saturday’s effort was even more disturbing for Berry when you consider how well the Miami backcourt played. Brown and Newton both had big days to combine for 48 points. Some of this, obviously, also falls on Berry’s teammates since they struggled to show up — besides Justin Jackson — on Saturday.

If the Tar Heels are going to become an elite team again, they need Berry to regain his All-ACC form. There are still plenty of games to make that happen. The good news for North Carolina is that the next game for them is at home against reeling Pitt, which can hopefully help Berry break out of his funk.

3. Bruce Brown is the key to Miami’s success this season

Miami freshman Bruce Brown had a career day on Saturday as he finished with 30 points, five assists and four rebounds. We’ve had so many other freshmen play well across college basketball this season that it is easy for a guy like Brown — who is averaging double-figures for an NCAA tournament team in the ACC — to get lost in the national shuffle.

This dude is hooping right now.

Brown’s elevated play gives the Hurricanes another high-octane perimeter weapon. Senior Davon Reed and junior Ja’Quan Newton are still the leaders of Miami and the most consistent double-figure scoring options. Having Brown play better over the last three games just makes it even tougher to stop the Miami offense.

Over the last three games, Brown is averaging 19 points and five assists per game. That kind of production might not be sustainable for Brown over the rest of the schedule but if he’s even close to those numbers on some nights it helps Miami out a lot and makes them a much tougher opponent.

 

No. 4 Virginia beats No. 11 Miami to reach ACC title game

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WASHINGTON (AP) Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points and No. 4 Virginia beat 11th-ranked Miami 73-68 Friday night to set up a showdown with North Carolina in the conference title game.

Virginia (26-6) and No. 7 UNC could each become NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds after impressive showings this week. Against Miami (25-7), the Cavaliers led wire-to-wire to the delight of the crowd that made Verizon Center feel like a home game.

Ja’Quan Newton had 19 points off the bench to lead Miami.

Beginning with Brogdon’s 3-pointer 48 seconds in, Virginia led the entire first half. The Cavaliers went up by as many as 11 as eight different players scored but watched as Miami went on a 6-0 run to end the half and cut the margin to five.

Facing the same kind of hostile environment as Thursday night against Virginia Tech, Miami cut it as close as three points. A series of turnovers stunted the comeback bid, and Brogdon went to work scoring and playmaking.

With help from Marial Shayok (10 points) and London Perrantes (11 points), Virginia pulled away to lead by 13 with 3:10 left. The Hurricanes must now turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament, where they’re expected to be a high seed.

UNC routed Notre Dame Friday to make it to the title game. Virginia won the teams’ only meeting Feb. 27 in Charlottesville. The game features the top two seeds after the top four reached the semifinals.

“The ACC is a great conference,” UNC forward Justin Jackson said. “So at the end of the day, that’s what you expect in the championship game: to have two really good teams.”

TIP-INS

Miami: Ivan Cruz Uceda did not play in the quarterfinal victory because of Virginia Tech’s speed, according to coach Jim Larranaga, who said the big forward would be a “major player” against Virginia. Cruz Uceda scored all eight of his points in the first half. … Senior guard Sheldon McClellan fouled out with 46.2 seconds left. He finished with 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting.

Virginia: Brogdon went 10 of 11 from the free throw line. … Virginia reached the ACC final for the sixth time in school history. … Last won the conference tournament in 2014. … The last time Virginia played in a game where each team shot over 50 percent was Dec. 7, 2013, against Green Bay.

UP NEXT

Virginiai: Faces seventh-ranked North Carolina for the conference title Saturday.

Miami: NCAA Tournament.