Miami and Illinois are two of the most physical teams left in the tournament, and that became apparent very early as the big guys for both teams battled down low. Miami jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, but Illinois and big man Tyler Griffey answered and went on a 14-5 run to take the lead at 16-14 almost halfway through the 1st half. Kenny Kadji was held scoreless until 7 minutes left in the 1st half, and that gave Miami a 21-18 lead.
Miami nor Illinois didn’t have great defensive stats, but the last 5 minutes of the 1st half neither team could get a shot off. Both teams defense was great, and going into halftime the Fighting Illini held Miami’s Shane Larkin to only 8 points. Although fighting foul trouble Miami took a 29-26 lead going into halftime.
Tyler Griffey has 9 points to lead Illinois in scoring at halftime, and Miami was led by Rion Brown, and Shane Larkin with 8 a piece.
Illinois came out of halftime with some fire, and got their first lead since earlier in the 1st half 35-34 with 12:23 left in the game. The fighting Illini are keeping Shane Larking out of the paint, and forcing him into contestant jumpers that aren’t falling.
Miami went on a 10-2 run with 8:42 left in the second half to extend their lead to 46-39 behind 2 threes in a row from Rion Brown who has 19 points with 8:40 left in the game.
This whole game was a game of runs, and Illinois has made a late run to tie the game with 3:58 left. Brandon Paul has been huge for the Fighting Illini with 16 points.
Shane Larkin who may be the best point guard in the nation hits a huge 3 point shot to put Miami back on top 57-55 with 58 seconds left in the game.
Rion Brown hit 2 free throws with 7.7 seconds left, and extended the lead to 63-59 in favor of Miami. The Hurricanes are a very experienced, and tough team late in games.
Miami defeats Illinois 63-59 to advance to the sweet 16 behind Rion Brown’s 21 points. Miami will take on Marquette in the sweet 16 who defeated Butler on Saturday night.