After a disastrous final two minutes, Miami basketball season is over. Loyola-Chicago drilled a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left to claim a 64-62 win and end the Hurricanes’ season in the first round of the tournament.
Here are some initial takeaways from the loss:
Inconsistent Walker cost Miami
No one on Miami’s active roster can hit the highs Walker does. The star shooting guard drills pull-up 3s with hands in his face. He finishes crafty layups above the rim with ease. With Bruce Brown hurt, Walker is the only player who can slam home dunks like this one:
But for 10 minutes, Walker was a literal non-factor. The freshman didn’t even attempt his first shot until there was 10:29 remaining in the first half. At that point, he hadn’t grabbed a rebound, dished out an assist, turned the ball over, committed a foul or attempted a free throw, either.
Walker wound up leading the Hurricanes with 12 points, but committed the nearly costly turnover. With Miami nursing a 1-point lead, the Hurricanes inbounded to Walker, who got stripped, and watched the ball bounce off his leg and out of bounds. Loyola missed a pair of shots and Walker got another chance. He missed a free throw, leading to the wildest moment of March, so far.
Chris Lykes isn’t quite ready for March
If Chris Lykes was playing for Mount St. Mary’s or something, he’d be a darling of March Madness. The 5-foot-7 guard is almost always Miami’s ultimate spark plug and he was responsible for some of the Hurricanes’ most important bursts Thursday.
Miami went into halftime locked in a 38-38 tie with Loyola, then Lykes took over. He opened with a layup and a slick skip pass to get Lonnie Walker free for a dunk. Then he made one of the plays only Lykes can. He broke out his lightning-quick crossover to drill a pull-up 3-pointer. A possession later, the freshman grabbed a long rebound at midcourt and whipped an assist with his off hand to find fellow guard Ja’Quan Newton wide open beneath the hoop for a layup. The Hurricanes stretched their lead to 39-32 — their largest of the game to that point — and the Ramblers took a timeout. Lykes finished the game, however, with 10 points on 11 shots.
Clean up the turnovers, clean up the game
Miami was awful for the first 20 minutes. The Hurricanes, who average 11 turnovers per game, gave the ball away 7 times during the first half alone. Newton committed 4 turnovers himself. Miami spent most of the first half playing from behind against Loyola.
For most of the second half, the Hurricanes cleaned up their issues — until the final moments. Miami turned the ball over three times during the last 2:12. The Ramblers ended the game on a 9-2 run.
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