Miami Uses 'Crafty' Trick Play to Spark Epic 2nd-Half Comeback and Reach First Final Four


Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard — or pay attention.

Throw in a little craftiness and you have all the makings of an epic upset, which is exactly what happened when the Miami Hurricanes toppled the Texas Longhorns in the Elite Eight of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. on Sunday night.

First, the basics: The fifth-seeded Hurricanes were already an underdog facing the Longhorns, a No. 2 seed, in the Midwest Region final at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

When Texas’s 8-point halftime lead ballooned to 13 points in the second half of the game, you wouldn’t blame any prognosticators for penciling the Longhorns into just the fourth Final Four appearance in school history.

Instead, the Hurricanes made it to their first Final Four ever.

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Despite being down 13, Miami kept playing their hearts out, posting some wildly athletic, highlight reel plays like this inbounds alley-oop dunk:

But it was a different kind of play that helped to spark the rally from the 13-point deficit. It was a play that relied more on brainpower than calf muscle:

In a play accurately described by the official NCAA March Madness account as “crafty,” Miami guard Wooga Poplar was inbounding the basketball when he noticed that Texas forward Timmy Allen was not giving him his full attention.

That window of opportunity was all Poplar needed to “inbound” the ball by bouncing it off Allen’s back, giving him an easy (and ferocious) dunk to cut the lead to 11.

The lead would never get back to 13, and Miami slowly whittled that 11-point deficit down until they took a 1-point lead with a little over five minutes left in the game.

The Hurricanes briefly fell behind again before ultimately pulling away in the game’s closing moments, securing an 88-81 win and a trip to Houston for the Final Four.

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The Associated Press notes this is the first time since 1979 that not a single Final Four team is higher than a No. 4 seed. Since 1979 was the first year the whole field was seeded, this is, quite literally, a historic quartet of teams in the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

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Joining Miami in the Final Four will be West Region No. 4 seed Connecticut, South Region No. 5 seed San Diego State and East Region No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic.

Joining the Hurricanes as Final Four newcomers are the Aztecs and Owls, who will square off in the earlier of two marquee games Saturday night.

Miami and Connecticut will play after that contest.

The winner of those two games will then face off to determine the men’s basketball champions on Monday.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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