Next Score View the next score

    Miami 63, Illinois 59

    Miami gets big victory over Illinois

    Miami’s Shane Larkin (left), who scored 17 points, plays some defense by stripping the ball from the Illini’s Nnanna Egwu.
    Miami’s Shane Larkin (left), who scored 17 points, plays some defense by stripping the ball from the Illini’s Nnanna Egwu.

    AUSTIN, Texas — There was no question about Shane Larkin’s go-ahead 3-pointer for Miami.

    The ball that appeared to ricochet off the hands of Miami’s Kenny Kadji seconds later but went to the Hurricanes — well, look at the replay.

    Regardless, there is no overturning the fact that the Hurricanes are going to the NCAA round of 16 for only the second time in school history.


    The Hurricanes got Larkin’s big shot and the close call, holding on for a 63-59 victory over Illinois on Sunday night in the East Regional.

    Get Breaking Sports Alerts in your inbox:
    Be the first to know the latest sports news as it happens.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    ‘‘I mean, I don’t know. It was so many hands, you know. I don’t know who touched it last,’’ Kadji said while seemingly trying to suppress a smile. ‘‘Everybody was getting out there and there was a couple of hands. So I really don’t know.’’

    After Larkin’s first field goal in about 9½ minutes, D.J. Richardson missed a 3-pointer. In the fight for the rebound the ball looked like it hit Kadji’s extended hand. But the Hurricanes kept the ball, and Durand Scott made two free throws after that.

    ‘‘You saw the same video I did,’’ first-year Illinois coach John Groce said. He added, ‘‘hard game to officiate . . . 50-50 calls are hard sometimes.’’

    Miami (29-6), the No. 2 seed, advanced to play Marquette (25-8) in Washington on Thursday night.


    Larkin, the only non-senior starter for Miami and the ACC player of the year, finished with 17 points. On the late 3-pointer, Larkin had other ideas against a suffocating Illinois defense but he was cut off when he tried to drive to the basket.

    ‘‘I just stepped back and shot the three, and it went in,’’ Larkin said.

    Rion Brown had 21 with five treys for the Hurricanes. Kadji added 10 points and eight rebounds.

    Brandon Paul had 18 points for No. 7 seed Illinois (23-13). Nnanna Egwu and Tyler Griffin had 12 points each, the latter on four 3-pointers.

    ‘‘After the game was over, I was still kind of stunned,’’ said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, who danced it up in the locker room when it was over, a video sure to go viral among ’Canes fans. ‘‘When I shook hands with John Groce, I was speechless.’’


    Brown and Larkin both had two free throws in the final 16 seconds, between a tip-in by Egwu.

    The Illini missed six 3-pointers in a row in the second half. But, as usual, they kept shooting them and Paul got them out of that slump with consecutive long-range makes.

    His three from the right wing with 6½ minutes left got Illinois within 48-45, then after Kadji’s short hook for Miami, Paul made another 3-pointer.

    The Illini went ahead when Paul drove for a dunk that broke a 52-52 tie with 3:23 left. Scott made a layup with just under two minutes for Miami, before Abrams made the first of two free throw attempts for a 55-54 lead that was gone on Larkin’s step-back three.

    Miami became the third team from the state of Florida going to the round of 16. Florida won on the same floor earlier Sunday, and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast — which beat the Hurricanes earlier this season — won over San Diego State in another South Regional.

    ‘‘People gave us grief for that [loss to Gulf Coast]. But now it’s just showing that they’re a great team,’’ Larkin said. ‘‘It just proves that Florida has great basketball teams just like everybody else in the country.’’