The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team beat the Pittsburgh Panthers 65-63 Tuesday night at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla., in a back-and-forth game.
For the ‘Canes, it started and ended with an Angel. Angel Rodriguez, to be specific.
The Miami point guard had an excellent bounce back game, whipping assists from all over the court and putting in 17 hard earned points, including the game-winner with 1.4 seconds left in the game.
He started off the scoring for Miami with a dime to center Tonye Jekiri. The big man put it in with a smooth-looking post move (a move we don’t see all too often from Jekiri). Rodriguez finished with eight assists, several of which were one-handed lasers that looked like they came straight from the Stephen Curry handbook on assists.
Against Georgia Tech on Sunday, Rodriguez missed all six of his shot attempts and finished the game scoreless. He came out and played like a man who went 0-6 shooting in the previous game, a man that wanted to come out and remind everyone what his game really looks like. Even with heavy the amount of ball-handling, Rodriguez only committed one turnover.
Time and again Rodriguez drove into the paint and made a tough layup.
The coup de grâce for Rodriguez was, of course, the game-winner. It was a wild final few seconds. It started with Miami shooting guard Sheldon McClellan missing a three-pointer. Hurricanes forward Kamari Murphy missed a put-back layup, followed by several players jumping up to either put the ball in or secure a rebound. Rodriguez came out of nowhere to stick his hand into the mix, and somehow was able to get enough of the ball to swish it straight through the hoop.
Even with the made shot, there was still time left.
Pitt had 1.4 seconds for their prayers to be answered. Alas, it was not to be, and Rodriguez sealed the deal by stepping in front of a Pitt player following their inbound pass. Contact was made (a lot of it), but there was no call for either an offensive or defensive foul. The clock ran out and that was it.
In a game that featured 15 lead changes and eight ties, things almost got out of hand early for Miami. A poor sequence for the ‘Canes started with 8:31 left in the first half when Murphy missed a layup that would’ve given Miami a 19-18 lead. Instead, Pitt took in the rebound following the miss and put in a lucky tip-shot to put them up 20-17. A poor turn-around jumper on the other end by Murphy squandered another possession for the ‘Canes. Over the next five minutes, Pitt built a 27-19 lead, until Miami guard Davon Reed drained a crucial three-pointer to cut the deficit to five.
McClellan closed out the first half in epic fashion. First, he charged down the court with reckless abandon to block a shot from behind with 35 seconds remaining in the first half. It was reminiscent of Buffalo Bills wide-receiver Don Beebe sprinting down the field to strip Dallas Cowboys lineman Leon Lett of a sure touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII. It was a fitting play by McClellan, given the most recent incarnation of the Super Bowl was played on Sunday.
Then, with three seconds left in the half, McClellan caught an inbound pass and again sprinted down the court, getting off and drilling a shot before the buzzer sounded. McClellan actually jumped behind the three-point line but had so much momentum that he was at the free-throw line by the time he put the ball up! The shot was originally ruled to be worth two points but by the start of halftime had been changed to the correct three points.
Jekiri had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Reed added a much-needed 12 points, while McClellan had 10 in total.
It was a quiet night for the Miami bench, who scored only 12 of the team’s 65 points.
The Hurricanes (19-4) are next up against Florida St. (16-7) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Check out the highlights of the game from Hurricane Sports here:
Alex Goldman is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. He is currently the Sports Editor of distractionmagazine.com. He’s a Northern California native and loves snowboarding, writing, and above all the Green Bay Packers.