The Hurricanes improved to 13-0 in the ACC by grinding out a tough battle with a determined Cavaliers team. Virginia refused to back down and appeared on the verge of adding a significant win to their tournament resume before a pair of poor decisions late in the contest allowed Miami (FL) to escape victorious.
The Hurricanes shot 50 percent in the first half while holding Virginia to 34.6 percent from floor but still only managed to hold a 24-22 lead. A major reason for the lack of a bigger lead was Shane Larkin found himself in foul trouble and was nailed to the bench.
Without Larkin on the floor, the Hurricanes struggled to find the offensive flow that has seen them become one of college basketball’s most dominating forces this season. However, once the super sophomore returned in the second half he led the way offensively for Miami (FL), finishing with 11 points, six assists and three rebounds.
Larkin’s absence was helped by the emerging Rion Brown, who delivered 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The 6-foot-6 junior has struggled at times this year but has been coming on strong lately for the Hurricanes, adding more depth to an already deep and experienced roster.
Speaking of the depth, all eight players that hit the court for Miami (FL) managed to record at least two points in the contest, proving the team is hardly dependent on one or two players. Although Larkin is the spark plug that gets the offense going, the Hurricanes have four or five options more than capable of stepping up with a big offensive contribution.
On any given night it could be seniors like Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson or Trey McKinney Jones that go off for a major scoring outburst. Or like the team displayed against the Cavaliers, it could be a total team effort in a grinding performance that leads to the Hurricanes success.
By having so many different options to emerge victorious in any contest, Miami (FL) is no doubt one of the most dangerous teams heading into the NCAA tournament. As history has proven over the years, to win a championship you’re going to need multiple ways to defeat numerous opponents with different strengths and weaknesses.
The Hurricanes have proven all season, and once again against Virginia, they can find more ways than one to win a ball game.