Men's NCAA Tournament Elite 8 recap: Miami joins San Diego State as teams earning first trip to Final Four
The Miami, San Diego State and Florida Atlantic men's basketball teams are in the Final Four for the first time.
No. 5 San Diego State rallied to beat No. 6 Creighton in the first of two Elite Eight games on Sunday after each program advanced out of the Sweet 16 for the first time. Darrion Trammell's free throw with 1.2 seconds to play lifted the Aztecs to a 57-56 win. San Diego State will play Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.
No. 5 Miami defeated No. 2 Texas after staging a huge second-half rally. Miami will face UConn, which routed Gonzaga 82-54, in the Final Four.
Brackets: See how the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments have played out
Follow along for Sunday's NCAA men's tournament action:
Miami Hurricanes complete comeback to earn first Final Four berth
The No. 5 Miami Hurricanes defeated the No. 2 Texas Longhorns, 88-81, in Kansas City to earn their first trip to the Final Four. The Hurricanes were down as many as 13, but came back in the second half to rally and win the game.
Senior guard Jordan Miller led Miami with 27 points and shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the field along with 13-13 in free throws. The only other player to go perfect from the floor and the charity stripe was Duke's Christian Laettner in a 1992 game against Kentucky.
"No one wanted to go home. We played, we came together, we stuck together, we showed really good perseverance and the will to just get there," Miller said after the game as his teammates stormed around him.
The Hurricanes were knocked out the tournament last year in the Elite Eight, so the win serves as a redemption for the team.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga took George Mason to its first Final Four in 2006, exactly 17 years ago from the day that he did so with the Hurricanes.
Senior guard Marcus Carr led the Longhorns with 17 points. Senior forward Timmy Allen and senior guard Sir'Jabari Rice added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Miami comes back after being down double digits
The Hurricanes and Longhorns are battling it out in the second half as Miami came back to take the lead after being down by as many as 13 points.
They went on a 13-2 run to take a 73-72, capped off by a free throw by Norchad Omier.
Texas answered back with a three-point shot from Tyrese Hunter to take a short lead before Isaiah Wong scored a jumper to tie the game at 75.
The teams have traded buckets with the score tied at 77 with 2:40 left in the game.
Texas starts second half strong
The Texas Longhorns carried their momentum from the end of the first half into the second half. Thirty seconds in, Marcus Carr found Dillon Mitchell for a monster dunk. The team had a 6-0 run to extend its lead beyond double digits and continued to dominate from beyond the arc, making nine three-point shots compared to Miami's two.
The Longhorns are up 62-49 with 14:04 on the clock.
.@TexasMBB comes out of the break with an emphatic alley-oop 💥 pic.twitter.com/YXr4XwIn3o
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 26, 2023
Halftime: Texas 45, Miami 37
The first half between No. 5 Miami and No. 2 Texas flew by, as the teams combined for only nine called fouls and play pushed well past the automatic television stoppages.
Texas caught fire at the end of the first half and scored on seven of its last eight possessions. That didn't count a final one in which the Longhorns were fouled on a three-point attempt. Texas has shot lights out from beyond the arc, hitting 7-of-13 attempts (53.8%). Interestingly, Texas actually averages seven made three-pointers per game. The Longhorns have nearly half of their total points (21) coming from players off the bench.
Miami guard Jordan Miller is carrying the Hurricanes and hasn't missed any of his six shot attempts. He leads all scorers with 13 points. While the Hurricanes were aggressive in the first half in attacking the paint, many of their baskets have come from individual efforts, with the Hurricanes assisting on only six of their 16 field goals. The Longhorns, by comparison, have 14 assists on 17 field goals.
Miami, Texas locked in a back-and-forth battle
At different points in the first half, both No. 5 Miami and No. 2 Texas have had to weather shots from their opponents, only to respond. What has made this an interesting game is that both squads are doing it differently.
The Longhorns are doing it from deep and on the bench. Texas has converted 5-of-11 three-point attempts and has 13 bench points; that compares to the Hurricanes going just 1-of-2 from beyond the arc and having only two points off the bench.
Where Miami is dominating is in the paint. Eight of the 12 Hurricane field goals have been in the paint, and Miami is also pushing the tempo, trying to get numbers out on the break. Hurricanes guard Jordan Miller leads all players with 11 points, while Longhorns forward Timmy Allen has posted 10.
Texas leads 31-28, with 4:33 left to play in the half.
Miami aggressive, getting to the cup early, but Texas roars back
No. 5 Miami raced out to a seven-point lead by being aggressive and attacking the basket; each of the first six Hurricanes shots came inside the paint, with Miami converting four.
No. 2 Texas, however, scored seven unanswered in a minute-and-a-half of play to tie the game, 9-9, just more than five minutes into the game.
The Longhorns are edging Miami 5-2 on the boards and shooting 37.5% from the floor. The Hurricanes are isshooting 57.1%. Miami guard Jordan Miller leads all players in the early going with five points.
Bishop gets the start for injured Disu in Texas' matchup vs. Miami
Texas forward Christian Bishop will start only his second game of the season with the injury to Dylan Disu, who suffered a bone bruise on his left foot in the second round. Bishop, a 6-foot-8 senior, has started 86 of his 161 career games, but Sunday’s Elite Eight contest against No. 5 seed Miami marks only his second start this season.
Bishop certainly took care of his business in Friday’s win over Xavier, when he came off the bench and scored a game-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds while playing 24 minutes after Disu played only two minutes in the Sweet 16 game. That performance mirrors his career stats; he’s made 61% of his shots and averaged almost 10 rebounds and more than 15 points per 40 minutes in his five college seasons.
Bishop transferred from Creighton before last season, and this season marks his first as a reserve since his freshman campaign with the Bluejays in 2018-19. Now he’ll seek to send No. 2 seed Texas into its fourth Final Four in school history.
— Thomas Jones, Austin American-Statesman
For the first time in program history, SDSU reaches Final Four
No. 5 San Diego State held a two-point lead with 34.2 seconds left in the game. All the Aztecs had to do was inbounds the ball successfully and convert free throws. Instead, an errant pass gifted No. 6 Creighton an easy layup under the basket to tie the game.
The Aztecs, however, recovered, and guard Darrion Trammell was fouled on his game-winning floater attempt down the left side of the lane as the clock ticked down. The foul call instantly set social media ablaze, debating the merits of a call like that in such a tense moment in the game, but Creighton guard Ryan Nembhard did place his left hand on Trammell's back as he took the shot.
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Trammell missed the first free throw but drained the second. Creighton's desperation inbound heave caromed off of a scrum of players and did not leave enough time on the clock for the Bluejays to get a final shot.
San Diego State won, 57-56 and will face Florida Atlantic in Saturday's semifinals.
Finally, the Aztecs regain the lead
More than 30 minutes of game time elapsed before No. 5 San Diego State finally regained a lead three-quarters of the way through the second half. From then on, the Aztecs regained offensive efficiency, confidently converting pull-up jumpers off of pick-and-roll action.
What’s not helping No. 6 Creighton is the sheer volume of shots missed in the paint, as the Bluejays have four missed field goals in the paint in the second half.
The Aztecs hold a 52-50 lead with 3:30 to play, and a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Creighton goes cold, SDSU still can't quite get over hump
No. 6 Creighton went more than four minutes without a point midway through the second half, but No. 5 San Diego State simply cannot find enough consistency on the offensive end to erase the Bluejay lead.
Every time the Aztecs pull closer, they seem to get cold until Creighton is able to string together a basket or two. While both teams are struggling from three-point range — the two have combined to 5-of-26 (19.2%) — San Diego State is not backing away from more attempts, even if they’re not dropping. The Aztecs though, are putting forth plus effort on the offensive glass, and now hold an 11-8 edge over Creighton in that space.
San Diego State has done a tremendous job on Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who only has three points after intermission, in the second half.
The Bluejays hold a 45-41 lead with 7:40 left in the game.
Creighton holding steady, SDSU starts slow
Both offenses struggled from the floor to open the second half, though No. 5 San Diego State’s 6-2 mini-run closed the deficit before No. 6 Creighton’s consecutive trips to the free throw line (including an and-one on the second possession) kept the Bluejays ahead.
The Aztecs have clogged the lane with a 2-3 zone that has made it more difficult for Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner to receive the ball in the post. And San Diego State is actually picking up the slack on the offensive glass in the second half, but is struggling from the field, converting just 5-of-18 (27.8%) shots after halftime.
Creighton leads 43-39 with 11:30 to play in the game.
Aztec guard Lamont Butler leads all players with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Halftime: Creighton 33, San Diego State 28
No. 5 San Diego State has settled a touch on offense, in large part to the play of guard Lamont Butler, who paces the Aztecs at the half with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.
There are some warning signs, however, for San Diego State: it is being outrebounded by a margin of 16-14, though minutes earlier, it was 13-7. The Aztecs and have assisted on only two of their 13 field goals. Another concern? San Diego State has taken just one trip to the line and missed that free throw.
Despite all that, the Aztecs are taking a five-point deficit into the second half after Creighton went 3:20 without a field goal in the middle of the first half.
The Bluejays did bounce back from their cold spell and are riding the play of Ryan Kalkbrenner (10 points), Baylor Scheierman (seven points) and Ryan Nembhard (seven points) combining for 72.7% of Creighton’s points.
San Diego State's bench is outscoring Creighton's 8-0.
Creighton building modest lead
No. 5 San Diego State went nearly two-and-a-half minutes without a field goal early in the first half, allowing No. 6 Creighton to start to build a modest lead. The Bluejays are moving the ball fairly well and getting everyone involved; by the midway point of the first half, all five starters had scored. In fact, all starters have combined for 9-of-17 (52.9%) shooting from the floor.
One area where the Aztecs are performing well, however, is on perimeter defense. San Diego State has held Creighton to 1-of-6 shooting from three-point range. The Aztecs, though, need to play with more composure, having committed four turnovers and four player fouls.
The Bluejays are up 22-16, with 7:40 left to play in the first half.
Siblings face off for Final Four spot
Not only are San Diego State and Creighton playing for a spot in the Final Four, but a pair of brothers are playing for bragging rights against another once again.
Creighton sophomore forward Arthur Kaluma and San Diego State senior guard Adam Seiko are meeting against each other in the Elite Eight matchup, the second straight year they will do so in the tournament. Last year, Kaluma and Creighton won their first round matchup against the Aztecs in overtime, 72-69.
Before the Sweet 16, Seiko said it would be a “surreal feeling” if the two teams met with a Final Four berth on the line.
“Something I can’t even put into words, really,” Seiko said.
The siblings' mother, Saira Eva Ariko, is in attendance for the game in Louisville.
— Jordan Mendoza
Offenses finding footing early on in Creighton-SDSU
The perimeter shooting from both teams slagged to start the game between No. 6 Creighton and No. 5 San Diego State, with both teams putting up an airball on three-point attempts on consecutive possessions. But the importance of post play and rebounding already showed its weight, as Creighton forward Arthur Kaluma's offensive board two minutes into the game led to center Ryan Kalkbrenner's flush on an alley-oop feed from guard Trey Alexander.
Both squads have combined to go 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. Kalkbrenner leads the way early with six points on 3-of-5 shooting. Creighton holds an 8-7 lead with 14:05 left to play in the first half.
Sunday's Elite Eight slate
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 6 Creighton: San Diego State's defense is off the charts – just ask Alabama. The Aztecs held the top overall seed to 32.4% shooting and completely bottled up future lottery pick Brandon Miller, who finished with just nine points on 3 of 19 shooting, including just one make in 10 attempts from deep. But Creighton could put this defense to the test. The Bluejays have scored at least 80 points in five of the past seven games and are shooting 50.6% from the field in tournament play.
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 5 Miami: After some early struggles, Miami's backcourt has taken over games to help the Hurricanes earn a second trip in a row to the regional finals. Nijel Pack has been on point since the start of tournament play, averaging a team-best 19.7 points per game and dropping a season-high 26 points to lead Miami into the Elite Eight. Texas has gone 22-7 since Rodney Terry replaced Chris Beard in December and is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008 and just the second time since the tournament expanded from eight teams in 1951. Under Terry, the Longhorns have fought through off-court drama and injuries to peak at the right time.
— Paul Myerberg
Bluejays, Aztecs have familiarity
While in different regions of the country, Creighton and San Diego State are not unfamiliar with each other.
Months ago, the Bluejays and Aztecs shared a chartered flight to the Maui Invitational. Creighton coach Greg McDermott said he sat across from San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher and talked about wanting to face off in the championship because "we would be OK with one of us winning and one of us losing."
Little did they know their meeting this season would be on a bigger stage.
— Paul Myerberg
Texas' Dylan Disu dealing with injury
Dylan Disu, Texas' best player this postseason, played less than two minutes in the Longhorns' Sweet 16 win against Xavier with what team officials called a bone bruise in his left foot. He's officially day-to-day.
He spent most of the game with a walking boot on his left foot. Team officials said he suffered the bone bruise in the win over Penn State in the second round last Saturday. He practiced some but aggravated the injury late in the week.
— Thomas Jones, Austin American-Statesman
Florida Atlantic most-surprising Final Four team ever?
It has become more and more common in recent years for an overlooked, out-of-nowhere tournament team to get hot at the right time and march all the way to the Final Four. Of the nine teams to reach the national semifinals as a No. 9 seed or higher, six have occurred since 2013.
The Owls' run to Houston is among the most unexpected Final Four teams since the tournament expanded that same season. There are eight teams that have shocked the nation most by advancing from off the radar to the national semifinals.
— Paul Myerberg
UConn is now the team to beat -- and Huskies know it
Parity in college basketball, huh? UConn didn’t get the memo.
All those close calls, all those middling years in the wilderness of the American Athletic Conference suddenly seem far away in the rear-view mirror. In his fifth season at UConn, Dan Hurley doesn’t just have the Huskies back in the Final Four, he has them playing in a way that should earn them the school’s fifth national title.
— Dan Wolken
Kansas State coach Jerome Tang shares message with FAU after game
Florida Atlantic may have eliminated his Kansas State team, but Wildcats coach Jerome Tang had nothing but praise for the Owls – and delivered his classy message in person in the celebratory FAU locker room.
“Your toughness, your togetherness, your ability to make plays for each other, the way you communicate with each other – nobody can beat ya’ll,” the first-year K-State coach told the Owls. “Just stay together, don’t get distracted between now and (the Final Four). Stay locked in, keep doing what you’re doing.”
"Y'all the toughest son of a guns we've played all year long."
Jerome Tang went to the Florida Atlantic locker room to congratulate them and wish them luck in the Final Four 🤝#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/jiF2N2Wl0U
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 26, 2023
"Ya’ll the toughest son-of-a-guns we’ve played all year long," Tang added. "Just proud of ya and rooting for ya."
Tang’s first year in Manhattan, Kansas, was a tremendous success after little was expected of the Wildcats in the preseason. They nearly made their first Final Four since 1964, falling to Florida Atlantic 79-76. The Owls are making their first Final Four appearance and will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Creighton and San Diego State.
— Jace Evans
Parity creating ultimate March Madness chaos
In a span of mere minutes Friday night, two programs that have had lots of good seasons but rarely seemed like they’re on the cusp of anything significant, evicted the last two No. 1 seeds left, from this NCAA men's tournament.
And with those back-to-back results, this is officially the maddest March of them all.
— Dan Wolken
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness Elite 8 men's recap: Miami, SDSU earn Final Four spot