Marquette crushes Miami, earns first Elite Eight berth since 2003

Second-seeded Miami Muhammad Ali-ed its way into the Sweet 16, riding one of the nation’s oldest teams into Washington and returning Coach Jim Larranaga to the site of arguably his greatest triumph.

But the Hurricanes ran into a Buzz Williams-shaped saw at Verizon Center. Marquette turned the second weekend’s opener into a track meet, running up an early lead and crushing Miami’s press once Larranaga’s bunch entered desperation mode. The final: A 71-61 Golden Eagles win that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would indicate.

That the Hurricanes shot 35.5 percent didn’t exactly help their case. A few late three-pointers turned what was a 20-point deficit into the final, less gaudy margin. But Durand Scott shot 3 for 13 from the field, fouled out and committed three turnovers. Trey McKinney-Jones was 3 for 10 and Rion Brown was 2 for 12. Not exactly the recipe for success.

Marquette, meanwhile, reaches its first Elite Eight since 2003, and will face the Indiana-Syracuse winner on Saturday. Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner had 16 and 14 points off the bench, respectively. Point guard Vander Blue shot 7 for 12 and, as a team, the Golden Eagles shot 54 percent.

 

Miami’s loss shouldn’t diminish the job Larranaga, the ACC coach of the year, did this season. The Hurricanes snatched ACC regular season and tournament titles behind Larkin, a first-team all-ACC selection, and Scott, the conference’s defensive player of the year.

But the ending will surely sting. Playing without injured center Reggie Johnson (knee), however, the Canes were outmatched from the beginning.

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Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · March 28, 2013

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