KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KXAN) — Oh, so close.
The Texas Longhorns led by as much as 13 points in the second half, but they couldn’t hold off the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday in the Elite Eight, falling 88-81 at T-Mobile Center.
With the win, the Hurricanes made its first Final Four in school history while the Longhorns will have to wait another year since its last appearance in 2003.
“I can’t say enough of how proud I am of this group,” Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry said. “These guys were incredible teammates all year long, they were so unselfish, and they gave us everything they had. Miami played well down the stretch, and they made some plays to win the ballgame.”
Jabari Rice made a 3-pointer to give Texas a 62-49 lead with 14:24 left, but the Hurricanes went on a 13-3 run that culminated on a pair of Jordan Miller foul shots to take a 77-75 lead with 3:57 remaining.
After an Isaiah Wong jumper with 4:40 left to tie the game at 75-75, the Hurricanes made 13 foul shots to seal the win. Wong had a rough first half with just two points and taking two shots, but he came alive in the second half to score 12 points and help boost the Miami scoring attack.
Miller ended the game with 27 points without missing a shot. He was 7-for-7 from the field and 13-for-13 from the foul line, 12 coming in the second half.
Playing without Dylan Disu, who was out after aggravating a foot injury in Friday’s Sweet 16 win over Xavier, Texas was thin on the interior and got into foul trouble in the second half. Timmy Allen fouled out and Brock Cunningham had four fouls late while Christian Bishop had to play with three.
“We’ve run through obstacles time and time again this year,” Allen said. “We really grinded this year and we were in the trenches every day, and I’m just really sad that we can’t play together anymore.”
After shooting 54% from 3-point range in the first half to take a 45-37 lead, the Longhorns went cold in the second half shooting 3-for-12 from distance. Texas still shot 40% for the game from three, but the Hurricanes had a huge advantage from the foul line, making 28-of-32 attempts. Texas shot 15 free throws and made 11.
Texas was 30-for-60 from the field while the Hurricanes were 29-for-49. Miami shot a blistering 64% from the field in the first half, yet still trailed by eight because the Longhorns made seven 3-pointers with Marcus Carr, Rice and Arterio Morris each hitting two.
Carr finished with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting and Allen scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Rice had 15 points and Cunningham pulled down eight rebounds.
“This team is far and away the most connected I’ve been on,” Cunningham said, “and it correlated to the season that we had. This group lives together, we do everything together, and it’s truly a family. That word gets thrown around, but I have no doubt this team will stick together, and the main thing is seeing how powerful a group of connected people can be.”
Texas ends the season 29-9 and the team made it to its first Elite Eight since 2008. Miami will face UConn at 7:49 p.m. CDT in the Final Four at NGR Stadium in Houston. Florida Atlantic and San Diego State will play the other game before the Miami/UConn game.