PROVIDENCE—Angel Rodriguez scored ten of his career-high 28 points in the final two minutes of Saturday’s second-round game, leading Miami over 11th seeded Wichita State 65-57. The victory marks the second Hurricanes Sweet 16 berth in four years and third trip in program history.
“To start the game Rodriguez pretty much just kicked my butt.” Fred VanVleet told reporters. “He set the tone and got it going early.”
Saturday’s game pitted a pair of veteran senior guards on each team. But Angel Rodriguez silenced the leadup by scoring 16 of Miami’s first 25 points while the Hurricaines held Shocker duo Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker to nine first half points.
“He’s a great player. He’s really quick. You have a great player start like that it’s going to be a long night for you,” VanVleet told reporters.
After Miami forced a Wichita State clock violation in the opening possession, then grinded 29 seconds before Angle Rodriguez made a layup, scoring looked impossible for both teams. But moments later when Rodriguez bumped a flex cut for a wide open three and then made a lefty layup the basket suddenly appeared bigger on Miami’s end. But the Shockers eventually found points by throwing the ball inside to Shaquille Morris and the second efforts of frontcourt mates Anton Grady and Markis McDuffie. The Shockers fell short of the 20-point plateau and trailed 32-19 at halftime.
“During my career here the word quit has never been a part of our vocabulary,” Baker told reporters after the game.
After Miami opened the second half on a 6-2 run, Shocker wing Zach Brown nailed a perimeter shot. Then bandmate VanVleet stole an inbounds pass, saved the ball from the sideline, and drilled a corner three. When Wichita State trapped the Hurricanes over the halfcourt timeline in the ensuing possession, Baker dove on the ball and VanVleet called timeout. Out of the break, Marshall subsequently drew up a post look for Morris, whose jump hook cut the Miami lead under ten.
Suffocating second half full-court pressure defense gave Wichita State a much more open floor on offense and the Shockers cut the deficit to 42-37 at 12:18 in the second half. Just as things could not get worse for Miami, they did. Shaq Morris jumped a Miami passing lane and then ripped the rim off on the other end. But in the next possession when Morris drew a foul on a long rebound, referees teched an irate Jim Larranaga. Although Van Vleet made one of two free throws, the Shockers gained their first lead via a deep Ron Baker three.
The Shockers attempted 21 more field goal attempts, but had one less turnover and out rebounded Miami by seven. The Hurricanes regained a consistent five-point advantage as half-court shooting struggles and bad luck haunted Wichita State.
When Baker nailed a three at the two-minute mark he cut the lead to two. Angel Rodriuez answered the next two possessions with an off balance layup and a three over Baker’s length and Miami maintained a two possession advantage in the final 90 seconds.
“Angel Rodriguez was just a man possessed. He’s 9-for-11 and makes circus shots at the end of the shot clock to put the nail in the coffin,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall told reporters.