college basketball

Cardiac Canes: Second Half Comeback Helps Miami Beat USC in NCAA Opener

Miami will now play No. 2 seed Auburn on Sunday in the second round

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It was the best of times and, for a moment, it was the worst of times for the No. 10 seeded Miami Hurricanes in their return to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Fortunately, the 'Canes will live to play another day.

Miami watched a double-digit halftime lead turn into a second half deficit, but a late comeback and two free throws from senior guard Charlie Moore helped the 'Canes win 68-66 over the No. 7 seeded USC Trojans in Miami's first tournament appearance since 2018.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong was the offense for the 'Canes (24-10) at the start of the game, scoring Miami's first 13 points as the Hurricanes went into the half with a 31-20 lead.

The Trojans (26-8) went on a 17-2 run to the second half and take the lead for the first time in the game. Wong's jumper and his two free throws with 12:10 left in the second half allowed the 'Canes to tie the game at 40 before Jordan Miller's dunk helped Miami retake the lead.

Miami would watch a five-point lead evaporate when Reese Dixon-Waters' jumper gave USC the lead. Miami's Moore would put the 'Canes back on top with a deep three-pointer with back-to-back layups from Sam Waardenburg and Moore part of a wild second half for both teams.

Dixon-Waters would miss a crucial free throw attempt following a foul by Wong, who fouled out and finished with a team leading 22 points. Senior guard Kameron McGusty would hit two free throws and a jumper with just under a minute to go to finish with 12 points and give the 'Canes a lead they would not give up.

USC would cut the lead to one on a three-pointer from Drew Peterson before Waardenburg hit one free throw attempt. Peterson would drive in for a layup before Moore got fouled with three seconds left, hitting both attempts to finish with 16 points.

Miami will now play No. 2 seed Auburn on Sunday in the second round. It's the first time the Hurricanes have advanced out of the first round of the tournament since advancing to the Sweet 16 in the 2016 tournament.

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