Welcome to the NCAA Tournament Canes fans! Where nobody is picking UM to win. Are you? I'll be here at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock to follow all the action during the first round game. I'll provide you with updates and analysis as the game progresses.
Any predictions? I've got UM escaping with a 76-73 win in probably one of the best first round games of the tournament. I'm picking James Dews as the surprise MVP.
By the way, since this is the NCAA Tournament, I have to provide a link to NCAASports.com and the other blogs across the country. I'm also limited with the number of updates I can provide. Since most of you will be watching anyway, I figure most of the fun -- Q&A and what not -- can happen below in the response category. Also, be sure to check out my buddy Greg Cote over at his blog, Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog. Enjoy the game.
By the way, there is a group of about 50 UM fans sitting behind the Canes' bench. So, there are some Canes fans here. There are few I see sprinkled around the arena in other spots. Also, looks like a few guys could have lost bets -- Jimmy Graham and Jonathan Stratton both shaved their heads for the game.
- 15:22 left, St. Mary's 9, UM 2: That's how you do not want to start an NCAA Tournament game. After Anthony King scored on Miami's opening possession with 19:40 to play in the first half, the Gaels have scored 9 straight points. Miami has completed a pass to Gaels coach Randy Bennett, Jimmy Graham has traveled and the Canes have looked god awful.
- 11:21 left, UM 9, St. Mary's 9: Canes have gotten their act together to tie the score, but are still only 3 of 12 from the field. And they already have six turnovers... not good.
- 7:57 left, St. Mary's 14, UM 13: It's just been an ugly game riddled with turnovers and missed shots. This wasn't the sharp brand of basketball Miami played in February. This is the type of ball UM played in Charlotte last week. Maybe its rust. But the Hurricanes are certainly lucky St. Mary's hasn't come out playing better. They could be down big otherwise.
- 3:24 left, St. Mary's 25, UM 21: Jack McClinton makes an appearance with 3:35 left when he grabs an offensive rebound and scores to make it 25-21. The Canes took a 19-18 lead with 4:38 left when James Dews scored on a runner. But the Gaels hit back-to-back threes behind Patty Mills and Todd Golden to take a 6-point lead. The story here is simple... Miami's offense is still playing poorly. The Canes are missing some shots deep inside the paint and haven't been able to hit a shot from outside the paint yet.
Halftime: St. Mary's 32, UM 27: Miami shot 39 percent in the first half, split the rebounding battle (18), the turnover battle (8). The difference? Three-pointers. St. Mary's is 5 of 11. UM is 0 for 6. Mills leads all scorers with 11 points.
- 18:12 left, St. Mary's 33, UM 32: Progress! Anthony King scores on a three-point play and when we come back from the break, Jack McClinton will be at the line trying to convert another to tie the score at 33. The big play of the game so far is that Gaels 6-11, 265-pound center Omar Samhan just picked up his third foul on King's dunk. Let's see if Miami can expose the middle now that he's out and find baskets in the paint.
- 15:22 left, UM 42, St. Mary's 35: Well what do you know -- Jack McClinton shows up and Miami goes on a run. Canes have gone on a 15-2 run over the first five minutes of the second half and took their biggest lead when Lance Hurdle stole a pass at midcourt and jammed it to make it 42-35. Can UM maintain this?
- 11:52 left, UM 52, St. Mary's 38: The speed and athleticism Miami has is finally coming into play. That 15-2 run we were talking about earlier has been followed up with another 10-3 run. Lance Hurdle and James Dews highlighted it with back-to-back three pointers. St. Mary's looks rattled. Diamon Simpson just got called for traveling, the fifth such call against the Gaels today. How about Jimmy Graham? That volleyball spike -- aka block -- he had with 13:52 left and Miami up eight was emphatic!
- 7:37 left, UM 62, St. Mary's 49: The Canes scoring run appears to be over, now it appears the rest of this game is going to be a maintenance job. A 13-point cushion with 7:37 remaining should be enough for this team to move on in this tournament.
- 3:14 left, UM 69, St. Mary's 61: Well, the last couple of UM baskets all belong to Jack McClinton. Miami is going to need someone else to help him here down the stretch.