11/15 – College Hoops Week in Review


Game of the Week: Maryland 75, College of Charleston 74

This was a sloppy, yet wildly entertaining, basketball game. (I was lucky enough to be on press row, and write this and this
about it afterwards.) The two teams went back and forth, with Maryland looking like they were going to take control early and Charleston
stealing the momentum back in the second half. Jordan Williams, who finished with 26 points and 15 boards, and Andrew Goudelock, who had 27
points and 10 boards, went on a five minutes stretch in the second half where they were trading buckets.

Eventually, Charleston took
control late in the game, going up 72-66. But the combination of
Williams and freshman guard Pe’Shon Howard lead a comeback. On the
final possession, down 74-73, Howard did this:

Player of the Week: Chris Singleton, Florida State

really wanted to go with Jordan Williams here, but Singleton deserves
this award after his performance on Sunday. Simply put, Singleton
played what may end up being the best all-around game of the season
when we are all said and done. He had 22 points on 7-14 shooting, 11
rebounds, 10 steals, 6 assists, and 4 blocks. He is the first ACC
player to ever record a triple-double including steals and was one away
from setting the league record with 11. More important that his
defense, however, was the fact that Singleton became a threat on the
offensive end of the floor. Florida State really needs him to become a
scorer this season if they want to compete at the top of the ACC.

The All-they-were-good-too team:

  • G: Joey Rodriguez, VCU:
    Rodriguez was terrific in the one game he played last week, putting up
    22 points, 17 assists, four rebounds, and four steal against
    UNC-Greensboro, the same team that Singleton had his triple-double
  • G: Steven Gray, Gonzaga: Gray’s number are pretty impressive through two games — 21 ppg, 8.5 apg, and 7.5 rpg.
  • G: Brad Tinsley, Vanderbilt:
    Tinsley answered the people that doubted his ability to run the point
    with a 11 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist triple double of his own against
  • F: Omar Carter, Appalachian State: Carter scored 35 points to lead the Mountaineers to a win on the road at Tulsa.
  • F: Jordan Williams, Maryland: Is Williams the best big man in the ACC? The 21 ppg and 13.7 rpg he is averaging in Maryland’s 3-0 start says year.
  • Bench: Ravern Johnson, Mississippi State; Brad Wanamaker, Pitt; Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington; Joevan Catron, Oregon

Team of the Week: Oregon Ducks

may be the only love that Oregon gets all season long, but I think they
deserve it. Playing for a new coach with a depleted roster on a team
and in a league that has gotten zero respect the last year or two, the
Ducks came out and won three closely contested games. Granted, they
beat North Dakota State, Denver, and UC-Santa Barbara — Denver was
good last year and UCSB will compete for a conference title. Still,
winning games lie that not only builds confidence for a team like the
Ducks, it teaches them how to win close games. When they play well,
they should be competitive in the Pac-10. If they can pull out some of
their close wins, they could end up with a respectable record in the
league. Leading the way for the Ducks right now is 6’6″ forward Joevan
Catron, who is averaging 20.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg.

Questions Raised:

  • Georgetown’s front court:
    No one should judge Georgetown for their 62-59 comeback win over Old
    Dominion on Friday night. The Monarchs are a very good, very physical
    basketball team that look to be destined for the NCAA Tournament this
    season. And while Georgetown’s big three guards were terrific —
    especially down the stretch — in scoring 54 points, the Hoyas were
    more or less beat up in the paint. Old Dominion is tough inside, but
    they aren’t tough by Big East standards. The Hoyas reliance on their
    back court wasn’t a secret, but it is still worrisome to see it
    reinforced this way.
  • Georgia really needs Trey Thompkins back: Arguably the best player in the SEC is out for an extended period of time with an ankle injury.
    Without him, the Bulldogs, who were expected to compete for a spot in
    the NCAA Tournament, need 20 points and back-to-back three point plays
    late in the game from Jeremy Price to survive Mississippi Valley State,
    72-70. Not exactly the way you want to start the season.
  • And the same goes for Mississippi State and Renardo Sidney/Dee Bost:
    No one expected the Bulldogs to dominate early in the season, not with
    two of their best players sitting out. MSU needed a career-high 32
    points from Ravern Johnson, and 14 and 14 from Kodi Augustus, to avoid
    the upset. Mississippi State is going to lose at least once before
    Sidney becomes eligible. Bet that.
  • Can Xavier survive their personnel losses?:
    The Musketeers were one of, if not the, favorites in the A-10 heading
    into the season, but after an ugly performance against a rebuilding
    Western Michigan team, the question must be asked. Judgements cannot be
    made off of one game — especially a season-opener — but with Brad
    Redford (acl) and Justin Martin (academics) out this season, and Jamel
    McLean still working way back from a broken orbital bone, Musketeer
    fans have to be, at the least, concerned. That said, Tu Holloway scored
    20 second half points, Dante Jackson knocked down four threes, and Mark
    Lyons showed why he was such a touted recruit coming into school by
    dropping 10 assists to 2 turnovers. Was this a sluggish start, or a
    sign of things to come?

  • Conference USA doesn’t look that intimidating:
    Memphis does. UTEP, who lost to Pacific at home, and Tulsa, who lost to
    Appalachian State at home, do not. Southern Miss did beat South Florida
    on the road, and South Florida is in the Big East’s cellar.
    That’s a big win for USM, who doesn’t have that tough of a
    non-conference schedule, but overall it was a disappointing week for
    the league.
  • Wait, wasn’t Villanova supposed to have a front court?:
    That’s what the talk of the Big East was. The Wildcats, known for their
    endless string of talented guards, were going to actually have some
    beef in the paint. That still may end up being true, but after seeing
    Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Maalik Wayns, and Dominic Cheek combine for
    56 points in a 68-52 win, there is reason for some concern. That said,
    Villanova — as predicted — will actually defend this year. They held
    Bucknell, who is a favorite to win the Patriot League, to 33.9%
    shooting and 52 points.
  • What’s going on with Curtis Kelly?:
    Frank Martin held him out against James Madison on Friday night. He’s
    sitting him against on Tuesday. “He probably won’t go on Tuesday,” Martin said.
    “We need to be at our best in March, so I need him to be consistently
    good for me than the last two days. I’m not happy with the way he’s
    been the last two weeks. We’re a very young team and I need good
    leadership from him.” Yikes.

Statements Made:

  • John Henson:
    North Carolina didn’t look great in their win over Lipscomb. Neither
    did Harrison Barnes or UNC’s guard. But Henson showed that he could end
    up being a very good player in the paint, as he posted 10 points, 17
    boards, and 7 blocks while outplaying Lipscomb’s Adnan Hodzic in an
    80-66 win.

  • NC State:
    The Wolfpack were good and bad on Friday night. The good is that they
    did, in fact, win while getting 51 points out of their trio of
    freshmen, CJ Leslie, Ryan Harrow, and Lorenzo Brown. The bad is that
    the 82-69 win wasn’t pretty or dominating. But hey, when you are Sidney
    Lowe, a win is a win.
  • Minnesota’s front court:
    Could the Golden Gophers have the best front court in the Big Ten? Its
    not as far-fetched as you would think. Minnesota got a combined 42
    points and 32 boards from Trevor Mbakwe, Ralph Sampson, and Colton
    Iverson in a 69-55 win over a very good Wofford team.
  • BYU’s too:
    The Cougars beat Fresno State 83-56, but the big win isn’t what’s
    important. Neither is Jimmer Fredette’s stat line. What I care about?
    Noah Hartsock out played Greg Smith, Fresno’s sophomore center and an
    NBA prospect at center. Hartsock had 21 points and 5 boards. Smith had
    more turnovers (three) than FGA’s (two).
  • Seton Hall:
    True, the Pirates did lose to Temple on Friday night. Its also true
    that there were times, especially in the second half, where the Pirates
    looked a bit like the Seton Hall team from last year with their shot
    selection. But the Pirates, while struggling offensively (which happens
    against Temple), played very well defensively and are still getting
    Herb Pope used to playing basketball again. And keep in mind, in Seton
    Hall’s 92-68 win over Cornell, Jeremy Hazell scored 28 points on 11
    shots. I saw nothing but positive signs from the Hall this weekend.
  • Bucknell:
    The Bison have to be considered the favorite in the Patriot League
    after competing with Villanova and throwing a scare into Marquette. The
    Golden Eagles needed a late 24-0 run to comeback and beat Bucknell
  • Oregon:
    Look, its going to be a long season for the Ducks. We all know that.
    But a 3-0 start against decent mid-major competition is far from a bad
  • James Rahon:
    SDSU picked up an 81-65 win over Long Beach State on Saturday. Kawhi
    Leonard had 21 points and 12 boards, and DJ Gay went for 20. But the
    best news? Rahon, a transfer from Santa Clara, had 14 points, including
    three huge threes as the Aztecs pulled away late in the second half.

  • Brockeith Pane:
    Playing without starting forward Nate Bendall, Utah State found
    themselves down 45-37 midway through the second half to a good Weber
    State team before a 17-0 run put away the Wildcats. Who led the Aggies
    in scoring? Not Tai Wesley, but JuCo transfer Pane, who finished with
    23 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists.

Odd Box:

  • Northwestern
    plays a Princeton-style offensive, which isn’t exactly conducive to
    high scoring out puts. Yet, the Wildcats beat Northern Illinois 97-78
    on Friday thanks in large part to 31 from John Shurna. Even weirder?
    Northwestern scored 97 points despite missing 13 of their first 14
  • Northwestern’s Big Ten rival Wisconsin doesn’t fill
    the stat sheets either, but they also had a huge season opener. Jon
    Leuer led the way with 24 as the Badgers put 99 points on Prairie View.
  • The
    Washington Huskies scored 118 points against McNeese State. That’s not
    all that surprising considering the pace they play at and the talent on
    their roster. What is surprising? That DePaul was able to score 114
    points against Chicago State on Sunday.
  • Playing without star Tre’Von Willis, the Runnin’ Rebels beat UC Riverside 85-41. Maybe we underestimated this team…
  • St.
    Peter’s lost to Robert Morris 55-30. They shot 16.7% from the floor
    (making just six field goals all game), turned the ball over 19 times,
    and missed 16 of their 32 free throw attempts. Yuck.
  • Dallas
    Lauderdale was two blocks away from a triple-double on the night that
    he notched his first career double-double, finishing with 12 points, 13
    boards, and 8 blocks in a 102-61 win over NC A&T.
  • Idaho
    State’s Broderick Gilchrist went for 39 points in an 88-80 loss to
    Colorado. He then went for four points in a 90-42 loss to Arizona.

Must-see games next week:

  • 11/16 – ESPN’s 24 Hour Tip-Off Marathon
  • 11/18-11/19 – Coaches vs. Cancer in NYC
  • 11/15 – Oakland @ Ohio
  • 11/15 – Wofford @ Clemson
  • 11/15 – William & Mary @ Richmond
  • 11/15 – East Tennessee State @ Murray State
  • 11/15 – Siena at Minnesota
  • 11/16 – Arizona State @ New Mexico
  • 11/16 – Colorado @ Georgia
  • 11/16 – Coastal Carolina @ Charleston
  • 11/17 – Murray State @ Mississippi
  • 11/17 – Utah State @ BYU
  • 11/18 – Hofstra vs. UNC
  • 11/18 – Coastal Carolina @ Georgetown
  • 11/18 – New Mexico State @ Arizona
  • 11/19 – Rhode Island @ Charleston
  • 11/20 – Wisconsin @ UNLV
  • 11/20 – Dayton @ Ole Miss
  • 11/20 – New Mexico @ Cal
  • 11/21 – Morehead State @ Florida
  • 11/21 – William & Mary @ Syracuse
  • 11/21 – USC @ New Mexico State

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Unbeaten Gamecocks, Iowa’s Clark star in women’s Final Four

women's final four
Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE ⁠— An undefeated South Carolina team led by star Aliyah Boston and guided by vaunted Dawn Staley, an Iowa squad that features high-scoring Caitlin Clark and the return of LSU and flashy coach Kim Mulkey headline the women’s Final Four this weekend.

Virginia Tech is the newcomer to the group as the Hokies are making their first appearance in the national semifinals. Hokies coach Kenny Brooks became the third Black male coach to take a team to the Final Four in women’s basketball history.

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Dallas this week as the Division I, II and III championships will be held there. It’s only the second time that all three divisions will have their title games in the same place.

Staley and the Gamecocks are looking to become the 10th team to go through a season unbeaten and the first to repeat as champions since UConn won four in a row from 2013-16. South Carolina advanced to its third consecutive national semifinals and fifth since 2015 thanks to another superb effort by Boston, the reigning AP Player of the Year. The three-time All-American had 22 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Maryland on Monday night.

Next up for the Gamecocks is Iowa and the sensational Clark. She helped the Hawkeyes reach their first Final Four in 30 years with a game for the ages in the regional semifinals on Sunday night. The junior guard had the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history in the win over Louisville.

The Gamecocks have the experience edge having reached the Final Four so often with this group. No one on Iowa’s roster was alive the last time the team advanced to the game’s biggest stage. C. Vivian Stringer was the coach of that team in 1993 that reached the Final Four before losing to Ohio State in overtime.

“It is like a storybook, but it’s kind of been like that for us all year long,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I mean, we have had — honestly, we keep talking about destiny and how it’s supposed to happen and it is happening. But I’m so happy for Caitlin. I can remember sitting in her living room and her saying, I want to go to a Final Four. And I’m saying, We can do it together. And she believed me. And so I’m very thankful for that.”

The other game will pit LSU against Virginia Tech. The Tigers are making their first trip to the national semifinals since 2008 when Sylvia Fowles dominated the paint. Now LSU is led by another stellar post player in Angel Reese.

She broke Fowles’ record for double-doubles in a season earlier this year and was key in the Tigers’ win over Miami in the Elite Eight.

Reese, who transferred in this season from Maryland, has made Mulkey’s second season at the school a special one. She came to LSU with a resume headlined by three NCAA titles from her time at Baylor along with some flamboyant sideline looks such as her silver-shimmering jacket with white pants that she wore in the Elite Eight game Sunday.

“What really makes me smile is not cutting that net down,” Mulkey said. “It’s looking around out there at all those LSU people, looking at that team I get to coach experience it for the first time.”

LSU’s opponent is also making its first appearance at the Final Four. The Hokies have had the best season in school history, winning the ACC crown as well under Brooks. He joined former Syracuse Quentin Hillsman and Cheyney State’s Winthrop “Windy” McGriff.

The significance has not been lost on Brooks, who hopes he can inspire other Black male coaches to get more opportunities.

The Hokies run to the national semifinals has been led by star post Elizabeth Kitley and sharpshooter Georgia Amoore. The pair combined for 49 points in the win over Ohio State in the Elite Eight.

Tar Heels’ Love plans to enter name in transfer portal

caleb love transfer portal
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina guard Caleb Love says he will enter his name into the transfer portal after three seasons with the Tar Heels.

The 6-foot-4 Love announced his decision with a social media post Monday. He had big moments during an unexpected run to last year’s national championship game though he also wrestled with inconsistency for most of his college career.

At his best, Love has game-changing scoring potential and is fearless in taking a big shot. That included scoring 28 points with a huge late 3-pointer to help the Tar Heels beat Duke in the Final Four for the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the rivals and the final game for Blue Devils Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.

This season he led the team by averaging 16.7 points. but his shooting percentages all dipped after showing gains in 2022. He never shot 40% from the field for a season and twice failed to shoot 30% on 3s.

UNC returns Armando Bacot, the program’s career leading rebounder and an Associated Press third-team All-American, and guard R.J. Davis at the core of an expected roster revamp. That comes after the Tar Heels became the first team to go from No. 1 in the AP preseason poll to missing the NCAA Tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Texas reportedly reaches deal with Terry as full-time coach

texas basketball
Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, Texas ⁠— Texas has reached an agreement with Rodney Terry to be the Longhorns’ full-time head basketball coach, taking the interim tag off his title after he led the program to the Elite Eight following the midseason firing of Chris Beard, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.

Texas was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Miami on Sunday, ending its longest postseason run since 2008. Terry and Texas officials reached the agreement Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Terry took over the Longhorns as acting head coach when Beard was first suspended on Dec. 12 after a felony domestic violence arrest. Terry was giving the title of interim head coach when Beard was fired Jan. 5.

Texas won the Big 12 Tournament championship and questions about Terry’s future with the program were amplified as the Longhorns kept winning in the postseason. Texas fans wondered what more he needed to prove and Longhorns players publicly advocated for him to get the job.

“It was all about this team. I’ve enjoyed every single day of this journey with this group,” Terry said in Sunday’s postgame news conference as his voice cracked and he held back tears. “It was never about me. It was always about these guys. I love these guys.”

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte had praised Terry’s job handling the team in crisis and gave him a raise, though only through April. He’d also noted Terry inherited a veteran, senior-heavy roster and strong staff of assistants built by Beard.

That lineup could have disintegrated into chaos after Beard’s arrest. Instead, Terry marched the program to a second-place regular season finish in the Big 12 and a No. 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Longhorns went 22-8 under Terry, and their march to the Elite Eight was the program’s first beyond the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend in 15 years.

Terry is the second Black head coach in program history, joining Shaka Smart, who coached Texas from 2015-2021.

Terry, 54, had a previous stint as an assistant at Texas under Rick Barnes from 2002-2011. He also was head coach at Fresno State and UTEP. He left UTEP after three seasons to join Beard’s staff in 2022. He is 185-164 as a head coach.

Former Texas player T.J. Ford, who led the Longhorns to 2003 Final Four and was that season’s Naismith national player of the year, praised the move to keep Terry.

“I’m very excited that the right decision was made to continue this great culture,” Ford tweeted.

The dormant Texas program had all the signs of renewal under Beard, as he mined the transfer portal to build a roster to compete in the rugged Big 12. He had done the same at Texas Tech, where he led the Red Raiders to the 2019 national championship game.

Beard was arrested after his fiancée called 911 and told police he choked, bit and hit her during a confrontation at his home. She later recanted that she was choked, but Texas still fired Beard as university lawyers called him “unfit” to lead the program.

The Travis County district attorney eventually dismissed the felony charge, saying they could not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and because of her wishes not to prosecute.

Beard has since been hired at Mississippi.

Caitlin Clark leads Iowa to first Final Four since 1993

Alika Jenner/Getty Images

SEATTLE – Caitlin Clark put on quite a show, having one of the greatest performances in NCAA Tournament history to help Iowa end a 30-year Final Four drought.

She had 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the No. 2 seed Hawkeyes to a 97-83 win over fifth-seeded Louisville on Sunday night and send the team to its first women’s Final Four in since 1993.

“I dreamed of this moment as a little girl, to take a team to the Final Four and be in these moments and have confetti fall down on me,” said Clark, who is a Iowa native.

The unanimous first-team All-American was as dominant as she’s been all season in getting the Hawkeyes to Dallas for the women’s NCAA Tournament national semifinals on Friday night. The Seattle 4 Region champion will face the winner of the Greenville 1 region that has South Carolina playing Maryland on Monday night.

“I thought our team played really well. That’s what it’s all about. I was going to give it every single thing I had,” said Clark, who was the region’s most outstanding player. “When I came here I said I wanted to take this program to the Final Four, and all you’ve got to do is dream. And all you’ve got to do is believe and work your butt off to get there. That’s what I did, and that’s what our girls did and that’s what our coaches did and we’re going to Dallas, baby.”

Iowa (30-6) hadn’t been to the Final Four since Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer led the team to its lone appearance in 1993. Before Sunday, the team had only been to one other Elite Eight – in 2019 – since the Final Four team.

Clark had the 11th triple-double of her career and the 19th in NCAA Tournament history. She had the first 30- and 40-point triple-double in March Madness history.

“It’s like a storybook, been like that all year long,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We keep talking about destiny and how it’s supposed to happen. … She’s spectacular. I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court. A 40-point triple-double against Louisville to go to the Final Four. Are you kidding me? That’s mind-boggling.”

Trailing by five at the half, Louisville cut its deficit to 48-47 before Clark and the Hawkeyes scored the next 11 points as part of a 17-6 run to blow the game open. That brought most of the pro-Iowa crowd of nearly 12,000 fans to their feet.

Louisville was down 22 with just under 6 minutes left before going on a 13-1 run to get within 86-76 with 2:10 left. The Cardinals could get no closer.

Clark left the game with 22.7 seconds left to a loud ovation from the crowd as she hugged her coach. After the game, Clark paraded around the court holding the regional trophy high above her head, delighting the thousands of fans who stuck around to celebrate their Hawkeyes.

Hailey Van Lith scored 27 points and Olivia Cochran had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead Louisville (26-12).

Clark hit eight of the Hawkeyes’ season-high 16 3-pointers, including a few from just past the March Madness logo. It was a school record for the Hawkeyes in the NCAA Tournament, blowing past the previous mark of 13 against Gonzaga in 2011.

Louisville scored the first eight points of the game, forcing Iowa to call timeout. Then Clark got going. The 6-foot junior scored the first seven points for the Hawkeyes and finished the opening quarter with 15 points. When she wasn’t scoring, she found open teammates with precision passes.

She also had four assists in the first 10 minutes, accounting for every one of Iowa’s points as the Hawkeyes led 25-21.

Clark continued her mastery in the second quarter, hitting shots from all over the court, including a few of her famous long-distance 3s from near the logo.

Louisville was able to stay in the game, thanks to Van Lith. After scoring the first six points of the game, she went quiet before getting going late in the second quarter. She had 11 points in the second quarter as the Cardinals found themselves down 48-43 at the break.

Clark had 22 points and eight assists in the opening 20 minutes enroute to the fourth-highest scoring total all-time in a NCAA regional.

“She played great, she made some big shots,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of Clark. “She passed the ball well. we turned her over at times.”


Clark has 984 points this season and is looking to join former Hawkeye Megan Gustafson with 1,000 points in a single year. Four other players have done it, including Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist, who accomplished the feat this season. Kelsey Plum, Jackie Stiles and Odyssey Sims were the others to do it.


Van Lith once again played well in her home state. The small-town standout from 130 miles away from Seattle grew into being one of the best prep players in the country, the all-time state high school leader in scoring and now a star for the Cardinals.

Hundreds of fans from her hometown of Cashmere, which has a population of 3,200, took in the game, cheering the Louisville star on.


It was a bittersweet day for Iowa assistant coach Jan Jensen. Her dad Dale died in the morning after battling pancreatic cancer for a year. He was 86.

“He didn’t sound so good the last couple days and I was kind of fretting, ‘When am I going to go if we go to Dallas?’” she said. “I just feel like he knew. He was never a high maintenance guy, he was never a guy who made it complicated with me in anything. So I think, he told my people at home, I’m not ready to go until Jan’s team is done.”

Miller, Wong rally Miami past Texas 88-81 for 1st Final Four

miami texas
Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the eve of Miami playing for a place in its first Final Four, the quiet conversation floating through the team hotel did not revolve around all that the Hurricanes had accomplished this season. Instead, they talked about what had happened to bring last season to a close.

The sting of an Elite Eight defeat was fresh to those who were there. And they made everyone else feel it, too.

“That loss sat with me for a really long time,” the Hurricanes’ Jordan Miller said. “It doesn’t go away, and the fact that we had the opportunity to come back and make amends, make it right, that’s what was pushing me.”

Miller responded with a perfect performance against second-seeded Texas in the Midwest Region final Sunday. Along with Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Isaiah Wong and March dynamo Nijel Pack, Miller rallied the Hurricanes from a 13-point second-half deficit for an 88-81 victory that clinched that long-awaited trip to the national semifinals.

“How hard we fought to come back in this game, especially on a stage like this, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Pack, one of Miami’s newcomers. “I know how much these guys wanted to win this game, especially being here last year and losing the Elite Eight, and now being able to take it to the Final Four is something special.”

Miller finished with 27 points, going 7 of 7 from the field and 13 of 13 from the foul line, while Wong scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half against the Longhorns, who had been the top remaining seed in a topsy-turvy NCAA Tournament.

Now, the No. 5 seed Hurricanes (29-7) have a date with No. 4 seed UConn on Saturday night in Houston. Two more Final Four newbies, fifth-seeded San Diego State and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, will play in the other national semifinal.

It’s the first time since seeding began in 1979 that no team seeded better than No. 4 made the Final Four, so perhaps it is fitting that Miami coach Jim Larrañaga is involved. He took George Mason there as an 11 seed 17 years ago to the day.

Miami was a 10 seed last year when it lost 76-50 to eventual national champion Kansas in a regional final.

“No one wanted to go home,” said Miller, coincidentally a George Mason transfer, who joined Duke’s Christian Laettner as the only players since 1960 to go 20 for 20 combined from the field and foul line in an NCAA tourney game. “We came together. We stuck together. We showed really good perseverance and the will – the will to just want to get there.”

After Miami climbed back from a 64-51 deficit with 13:22 to play, the game was tied at 79-all when Norchad Omier was fouled by the Longhorns’ Brock Cunningham while going for a loose ball. He made both of the foul shots to give the Hurricanes the lead, then stole the ball from Texas star Marcus Carr at the other end, and Wong made to more free throws with 34 seconds remaining to keep them ahead for good.

Miller kept drilling foul shots down the stretch to ice the Midwest Region title for the Hurricanes.

Wooga Poplar scored 16 points, and Pack followed up his virtuoso performance against top-seeded Houston with 15, as the same school that once dropped hoops entirely in the 1970s advanced to the game’s biggest stage.

“You just love when your players accomplish a goal they set out before the season,” Larrañaga said.

Carr led the Longhorns (29-9) with 17 points, though he was bothered by a hamstring injury late in the game. Timmy Allen added 16 and Sir’Jabari Rice had 15 in the finale of a season that began with the firing of Chris Beard over domestic violence charges that were later dropped and ended with interim coach Rodney Terry consoling a heartbroken team.

“These guys more than any group I’ve worked with in 32 years of coaching have really embodied, in terms of staying the course, being a team,” Terry said, choking up so hard on the postgame dais that he could barely speak. “They were so unselfish as a team, and they gave us everything they had. They really did.”

The Longhorns revealed about 90 minutes before tipoff that Dylan Disu, the Big 12 tourney MVP and early star of the NCAA Tournament, would miss the game with a foot injury. He hurt it in the second round against Penn State and only played about 90 seconds in the Sweet 16 against Xavier before watching the rest of that game in a walking boot.

Without their 6-foot-9 star, the Longhorns’ deep group of dangerous guards resorted to potshots from the perimeter against Miami’s porous defense. Rice hit two 3s early, Carr two of his own, and the Longhorns stormed to a 45-37 halftime lead.

On the other end, Texas tried to keep Pack and Wong from producing a sequel to their 3-point barrage against Houston.

Pack, who dropped seven 3s in the regional semifinal, didn’t even attempt one until there were 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half, and his best shot – a looping rainbow as he fell out of bounds – didn’t even count because it went over the backboard.

Wong took as many shots and scored as many points (two) as he had turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Longhorns’ advantage stretched to 13 in the second half, and tension built on the Miami bench. At one point, Harlond Beverly and Larrañaga got into a verbal spat and the 73-year-old coach yanked the backup guard from the game.

Fortunately for the ’Canes, Pack and Wong were poised, Poplar and Miller seemingly possessed.

Still trailing 72-64 with about eight minutes to play, Pack and Wong joined Miller and Omier in turbocharging a 13-3 run to give the Hurricanes a 77-75 lead, their first since the opening minutes. When Rice answered at the other end for Texas, Miller calmly made two go-ahead free throws to begin his late-game parade to the line.

Carr made a nifty turnaround jumper to tie the game again for Texas, but the Miami momentum never slowed. Omier made two free throws with a minute left, swiped the ball from Carr at the other end, and Miller and Co. finished it off.

“We just all bought into staying together, keeping that hope alive,” Miller said, “and the way we just willed this one through, I think everybody played really well, and I think it really shows the poise of this squad.”