Marquette blows through Hurricanes, reach Elite Eight

Marquette is headed to the Elite Eight for the first time in a decade thanks to a terrific shooting effort and a stifling defense that held Miami-Florida in check.

Jamil Wilson led the way with 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks as the Golden Eagles rolled through the Hurricanes, 71-61, in the first East Regional semifinal.

Vander Blue and Davante Gardner each chipped in 14 points for the third-seeded Golden Eagles (26-8), who were in this round for the third straight year but advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2003, when Dwyane Wade led them all the way to the Final Four.

"This whole Elite Eight thing, this is everybody from coach (Buzz) Williams, to our weight trainer, to Adrian, our academic advisor. It's going about business and never getting comfortable," Blue said. "It's about this group of guys that is so relentless and we never want to give up. ... We can celebrate this now but we're hungry for more."

Next on the Eagles' plate is a familiar dish in Syracuse on Saturday. The fourth-seeded Orange knocked off top-seeded Indiana in Thursday's nightcap.

Marquette, which earned a share of the Big East regular season title for the first time, led by as many as 22 on Thursday and proved its effectiveness at both ends, as it made 54 percent from the field while holding the ACC regular season and tourney champions to 35 percent shooting.

Miami (29-7) was making just its second Sweet 16 appearance and fell in an early hole it never climbed out of despite a roster filled with upperclassmen.

Senior Durand Scott, who came in averaging over 13 points per game, shot just 3-of-13 from the floor for 10 points, while Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadji had 14 and 11 points, respectively, for the East's No. 2 seed.

Marquette, which won its tourney games over Davidson and Butler by a combined three points, was in control from start to finish at Verizon Center.

The Eagles forced the Hurricanes into six straight misses and four turnovers during an early seven-minute scoring drought, and their subsequent 10-0 run had them ahead, 12-4.

Miami's slow start stretched the entire first half, as it missed all but one of 11 3-point attempts in being held to a season-low 16 points at intermission.

"We didn't have the juice that you need to play great basketball. It started right from the very beginning, you could see it. It never really improved," Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said.

Blue had half that total in the opening 20 minutes, and his deep jumper just before the buzzer gave Marquette a 29-16 cushion.

The margin reached 18 after Wilson drained a triple for a 41-23 lead five minutes into the second half, and although Miami picked up the pace offensively after the break, the Eagles did as well. Marquette hit 10 of its first 12 shots and pushed the difference to 51-30 on Blue's runner near the midway point of the period.

A 7-0 run by the Hurricanes was answered by buckets from Wilson and Gardner, and the Eagles cruised the rest of the way. Miami made four 3-pointers in the final two-plus minutes to make the final score somewhat respectable.

"We had a great season but we're just disappointed in what happened tonight," Larkin said.

Game Notes

Marquette is one of just four programs (Kansas, Florida and Ohio State) to reach the Sweet 16 the last three years ... Saturday will be the Eagles' seventh regional championship game ... Chris Otule scored 11 points and Trent Lockett added eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Golden Eagles .... Miami's only other Sweet 16 appearance came in 2000 and ended in a loss to Tulsa ... The Hurricanes came in averaging 69.9 points per game ... Rion Brown, who had 21 points in Miami's third-round win over Illinois, was held to five points on 2-of-12 shooting ... These teams had met four times previously, with each winning twice on its home court ... Marquette won the only meeting with Syracuse this season on Feb. 25.