PROVIDENCE (AP & HurricaneSports.com) — Angel Rodriguez had 24 points and seven rebounds as third-seeded Miami held on to defeat No. 14 seed Buffalo 79-72 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Sheldon McClellan added 20 points and five rebounds. It is Miami's first tournament win since it went to the Sweet 16 in 2013. The Hurricanes advance to play the winner of Arizona and Wichita State in the second round of the South Region on Saturday.
Miami (26-7) kept the Bulls at bay for most of the second half, leading by as many as 12.
The Bulls (20-15) finally got some traction, closing within 72-68 on a jumper by Lamonte Bearden with less than two minutes to play. But Miami hit enough free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
Nick Perkins had 20 points and six rebounds to lead Buffalo. Bearden added 19 points.
Miami trailed by 9 points about midway through the first half, before surging to take a 2-point halftime lead.
Buffalo tried to sag in on Miami's big men in the second half, but were bitten several times when the Hurricanes were able to get the ball out to the perimeter for open 3s.
Buffalo coach Nate Oats promised his team would come out attacking, and it did, connecting on four of their first five from beyond the arc to take an early 12-6 lead.
But Miami pecked away the rest of the have and took a 35-33 lead into the locker room after Bearden's layup at the buzzer was waved off.
Miami: Hit 5 of its final 7 field goals. ..Outscored Buffalo 36-24 in the paint. ...Went 26 of 34 from the free throw line. ... Improves to 3-1 against Buffalo. ...Improves to 7-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament.
Miami plays the winner of Arizona and Wichita State in the second round on Saturday.
Miami 79, Buffalo 72 – Postgame Notes
-Miami’s victory over Buffalo moved the Hurricanes to 7-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
-Miami’s matchup with Buffalo marked its eighth all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
-Miami will face the winner of the Wichita State-Arizona matchup.
-With the win, Miami has won three of its last four NCAA Tournament games.
-The Hurricanes have won at least one game in each of their past three appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
-Miami’s win over Buffalo marked its first victory as a No. 3 seed.
-Miami improved to 3-1 all-time against Buffalo. The series dates back to 1993.
-The Hurricanes have not suffered back-to-back losses since their back-to-back losses to Virginia (Jan. 12) and Clemson (Jan. 16).
-The Hurricanes held a 35-33 lead at the half. Miami improved to 20-1 when leading at the half.
-Miami opened the second half with a 14-5 run to take a 49-38 lead with 13:33 to go.
-Miami never trailed during the second half of play.
-On an alley oop from Ja’Quan Newton to Davon Reed with 4:13 remaining in the first half, Miami took the lead, 27-25. It was Miami’s first lead since 2-0 at 19:18.
-Miami moved to 100-42 all-time as a ranked team. The Hurricanes also improved to 52-22 as a ranked team since joining the ACC.
-With the win, Jim Larrañaga now has a 587-390 overall record in his 32nd season as a head coach. He is 117-56 in his fifth season at the University of Miami.
-Larrañaga improved to 8-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. He also owns a 3-1 record since arriving at Miami.
-Larrañaga made his seventh career appearance in the NCAA Tournament and his second since arriving at Miami.
-Miami’s starters were Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, Davon Reed, Kamari Murphy and Tonye Jekiri.
-Angel Rodriguez scored a game and season-high 24 points.
-Rodriguez scored 20+ points for the fifth time this season.
-Rodriguez has hit a 3-pointer in 11 straight games and has three-plus assists in 13 of the last 15 games.
-Sheldon McClellan has scored 10+ points in 21-straight games, dating back to Miami’s ACC opener against Syracuse (1/2/16). He has scored at least 10 points in 30 of Miami’s 33 games this season.
-McClellan scored 20+ points for the 13th time this season.
-Kamari Murphy has pulled down four-plus rebounds in 10 of the last 11 games. It was his fourth game of 10-plus rebounds on the season.
-Murphy set a new school record for blocks in an NCAA Tournament game with four. The previous record was 3, held by John Salmons (vs. Lafayette, 3/12/99) and Jimmy Graham (vs. Texas, 3/23/08).
-Murphy recorded his first double-double as a Hurricane. Murphy scored 10+ points for the sixth time this season and first time since 2/7/16 at Georgia Tech.
-Murphy tied a season-high with 11 points and tied a career-high with 13 rebounds.
-Davon Reed has hit a 3-pointer in 8 of his last 10 games and 10 of his last 12.
-Reed recorded a season-high in rebounds with 12.
-Reed scored 10+ points for the 10th time in his last 12 games.
-Ja’Quan Newton scored 10-plus points for the third straight game.