SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team ended its 2021-22 regular season in scintillating fashion Saturday afternoon, storming back from an 18-point second-half deficit to stun Syracuse, 75-72, at the Carrier Dome.
Miami (22-9, 14-6 ACC) trailed by 10 with under three minutes left and by seven with just 70 ticks to go, but closed the game on a 10-0 run in the final minute to silence the 23,108 in attendance.
Fourth-year junior guard Jordan Miller scored a season-high-tying 25 points and grabbed a season-best 13 rebounds to record his first double-double as a Hurricane. He also scored the final six points of the afternoon in the last 25 seconds.
“We’ve shown the ability to continue to play the game and not the score. I think a lot of players and teams look at the score,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “If they are ahead, they think they’ve already won. If they are behind, they think they’ve already lost. This team has really shown the resiliency and relentlessness to keep playing no matter what the score is and we did that today. We have done that throughout the season. Whether we are ahead or behind, we kept playing hard.”
After the Hurricanes scored the first five points, Syracuse (15-16, 9-11 ACC) answered with 11 in a row in just 87 seconds. It eventually upped the run to 15-2, taking an eight-point lead, 15-7, with 13:43 on the clock.
The Orange took a 14-point edge, 37-23, with 56 seconds left in the half and went on to take an 11-point cushion, 37-26, into the locker room behind 18 points from senior guard Buddy Boeheim.
Syracuse made four of its first five 3-pointers and shot 6-of-12 (50.0 percent) from deep, as well as 9-of-9 (100 percent) at the line, in the first half. Meanwhile, Miami went just 1-of-11 (9.1 percent) and 5-of-7 (71.4 percent), respectively, at the other end. Both teams posted sub-40 percent clips from the floor.
The Orange scored the first seven points after the break, grabbing a game-best 18-point edge, 44-26, with 17:32 remaining. Miami, though, responded with a 13-0 burst in just 2:45, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor and 2-of-2 at the line, to make it a five-point game, 44-39, with 14:43 on the clock.
The spurt reached 20-5, as the Hurricanes closed the margin to three, 49-46, with 10:42 left. The Orange missed 14 of 15 field-goal attempts after starting the half 3-of-5, but then made a 3-pointer to go up by eight, 56-48, with 9:12 to go. That started a stretch of back-to-back-to-back long-range makes, pushing the advantage back to 10, 62-52, with 7:10 left.
Six straight points by Miami, including an alley-oop dunk by third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong, sliced the deficit back down to four, 62-58, with 4:34 to go. The margin then grew back to 10, 70-60, with 2:29 on the clock.
After five consecutive points by the Hurricanes, including a 3-pointer by sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore following the team’s 2-of-16 start from deep, sliced the margin in half, Boeheim hit two free throws to make it a seven-point game, 72-65, with just 1:10 left. From there, Miami took over.
Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty hit a jump-shot with exactly 1:00 left to begin the late comeback, after which Moore forced a back-court turnover and McGusty then hit another jump-shot. That made it 72-69 with 46 ticks left.
Moore then forced yet another turnover and missed a 3-pointer, but Miller tipped it in with 25 seconds to go, as Miami pulled within one. Moore then came away with a steal and got fouled, heading to the line for a one-and-one with 14.5 seconds remaining.
Although the Chicago native missed the front end, Miller tipped in the miss with 12.8 seconds on the clock to give Miami its first lead since it was 5-3. Junior guard Joseph Girard III missed a shot at the other end, Miller grabbed the rebound and then calmly hit two free throws with 3.9 ticks left. Graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim III’s 3-pointer at the other end then sailed off the mark and the Hurricanes poured onto the court in raucous celebration.
“I think things happen for a reason. The guys had a lot of energy. We changed our defense from man-to-man to a zone trap and that gave us a chance to get a steal or turnover,” Larrañaga said of the final minute. “The two that were critical was Charlie Moore forcing that jump-ball and the Syracuse player dribbling off his knee. So, we had two turnovers, which gives you a chance because you don’t have to foul—I didn’t want to foul them since they are great free-throw shooters—and they didn’t get a shot because they are great shot-makers.
“The two turnovers led to baskets, which immediately cut into the lead,” he continued. “Guys have to make shots and big plays. Kam McGusty made several foul-line jumpers, but the player of the game was Jordan Miller, that offensive rebound basket and his two free throws to follow.”
Miller had his best performance as a Hurricane, matching the season-best point total he set on Dec. 29, 2021, versus NC State. His 10 made field goals tied a career high, equaling a tally he recorded during his George Mason tenure.
The Middleburg, Va., native, who went 5-of-5 at the stripe, pulled down two more rebounds than he had in any prior contest this year, as well as added an assist, two steals and a blocked shot.
In the second half alone, Miller logged a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double, shooting 6-of-8 from the field and making all four of his free throws.
“He had a great afternoon,” Larrañaga said. “One of the things about the zone is if you are behind the zone hiding on that baseline, you get some opportunities to get to the offensive boards. He is the best offensive rebounder we have and maybe the best offensive rebounder we’ve had [in my tenure] at Miami.”
McGusty finished with 19 points to enter the top 30 on Miami’s all-time scoring list. The Katy, Texas, native shot 8-of-16 from the floor to finish ACC action with 118 makes, a new program record. Fifteen of his points came on 7-of-10 shooting in the second half.
Wong tallied 15 points, while Moore added 11 to go along with a game-best eight assists, one shy of his season high.
Buddy Boeheim poured in 30 points in his final home game, shooting 8-of-17 from the floor, 5-of-9 beyond the arc and a perfect 9-of-9 from the line. His 30 points marked the highest total by a Miami foe this season.
Girard, who had the previous top total against Miami with 26 in the teams’ Jan. 5 meeting in Coral Gables, Fla., scored 17 points, but the Hurricanes held him to a 4-of-14 clip from the floor. Jimmy Boeheim added 14 points, but did so on just 4-of-16 shooting. No other Syracuse player eclipsed six points.
Miami limited the Orange to just 33.3 percent shooting (20-of-60) on the day, tying its best defensive performance of the season. At the other end, it shot 51.8 percent (29-of-56) from the floor, as it improved to 10-2 in true road games this season.
Syracuse went 21-of-23 (91.3 percent) at the line and made its first 12 attempts, as well as shot 11-of-24 (44.0 percent) from 3-point range. Miami logged 14-of-18 (77.8 percent) and 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) ledgers at the other end, but recorded a 42-16 edge in paint points.
Up next for the Hurricanes is the start of postseason play, as Miami travels to the ACC Tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where it will play at a to-be-determined time versus a to-be-determined foe as either the third or fourth seed.
Alex Schwarts – Miami Hurricanes Athletics contributed to this recap