BANKUNITED CENTER -- It is amazing how quickly things can change for you in college basketball. One minute, you are celebrated for beating a Top 10 team like Wake Forest by 27 points on your home floor. The next, some people want to roast you for losing by a combined seven points to Duke and North Carolina.
In all honesty, Canes fans who have something negative to say rather than positive after what this team has accomplished the past two weeks ought to realize they know very little about college hoops. Sunday, Miami played without Dwayne Collins. They got very little help from the refs (Miami didn't get to the free throw line until 6:01 to play and only made it there once). And still, some how, the Canes were a Ty Lawson missed three-pointer away and another Jack McClinton basket from beating the team everyone picked this season to win it all. Instead, heartbreak, a 69-65 Tar Heels victory and now a new dilemma. The Canes must win at least four of their last five to get to 8-8 in the ACC and have a chance at reaching the NCAA tournament.
UM coach Frank Haith wasn't trying to sugar coat anything in his post-game press conference. He knows there are no awards for coming close to wins. But he realizes this has to end and his team has to start winning some of these down to the wire games. Miami has lost five of its past six. Three came in OT and the other two by fewer than five points. UM had two possessions with the opportunity to take the lead late. The first one, McClinton drove to the basket and had his shot partially blocked before Jimmy Graham missed a tip-in. The second, Brian Asbury was called for a charge with about 44 seconds remaining. I am not sure what Haith could have done to prevent the last turnover, one other than ask Asbury to pull the ball back out and giving McClinton a chance. But on the other hand, how can you fault Asbury for trying to make a play? Bottomline: another tough loss.
Some more notes/thoughts...
> Ty Lawson finished with 21 points in 34 minutes. But those five three-pointers he made were a career-high and pretty much unexpected. Lawson has never been a big-time perimeter shooter. The game-winning three he hit with about three seconds left on the clock was basically a step-back prayer. Lawson, it should be noted, had been battling the flu since Thursday.
> Tyler Hansbrough's 8 points and 4 rebounds against UM wasn't a season-low (he had 8 points and 5 rebounds against FSU), but it was a tremendous effort for the Canes who were obviously short-handed without Collins. Jimmy Graham finished with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in 27 minutes. He basically did it all without much help from Cyrus McGowan, who was held scoreless in just 15 minutes -- as much a redshirt freshman Julian Gamble (who scored four points and had five rebounds).
> Jack's 35 points marked his third consecutive game with a season-high. He had 32 vs. Wake, 34 vs. Duke and now has eight career 30 point games. Prior to Sunday night, Eric Brown (1988-89) was the last Cane to score more than 30 in three straight games. McClinton is now second all-time at UM in 3-point field goals (one shy of tying the school record held by Steve Edwards 265).
> McGowan wasn't the only starter to put up a stinker for the Canes. Lance Hurdle was 2 of 9 from the field with 4 points, 2 assists and 2 turnovers. It's amazing to think where UM would be today if Hurdle, Collins and McGowan had managed to show up for the last two games. FYI, Brian Asbury was the only other Hurricane in double figures Sunday with 12 points.