Miami had to close strong to avoid a classic NCAA Tournament upset. The No. 5 seed Hurricanes rallied in the second half to overcome an 8-point deficit and defeat No. 12 seed Drake 63-56 to advance to the Round of 32.

UM struggled offensively in the first half and trailed 30-25 at the break. Coach Jim Larra├▒aga described the team’s halftime adjustments that helped the Canes make a run.

“So at halftime I talked to the coaches, and we were trying to figure out what we can do to soften up that pressure. So we just decided what I like to do against Carolina and Duke is set up a ton of ball screens and make their big guys have to come out and guard it.

“So Brodie was tremendous at the offensive end and he made some terrific defensive plays. He had several blocks. But we wanted him away from the basket, and Nijel (Pack) was able to use Norchad (Omier) as a ball screener and get some shots. Once he did, the guys were sharing the ball. Wooga (Poplar) got those same shots.

“It was a good adjustment, but it’s the players that have to make that work.”

The halftime adjustment helped, but Miami still had a tough defense to deal with. The Hurricanes dominated the final stretch. UM went on a 16-1 run for the final 4:29, including a 10-0 advantage in the last 2:28 before the buzzer.

Nijel Pack was determined to avoid joining the long list of No. 5 seeds that have fallen to No. 12 seeds over the years.

“Yeah, we went to the last media timeout, and I was like, man, this can’t be the way how it ends,” Pack told reporters. “I talked to my teammates. I felt like they felt the same way. We kind of brought some inner energy from within us. We picked up our defensive pressure.

“We were able to pressure them and get some steals and kind of put them on their heels. We kind of got the ball rolling, and we were able to get to a tie game. Then we had to make a big shot and get a stop. That’s what it came down to, making big shots and then ended up getting our free throws to close the game out.”

Pack led all Canes scorers with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor, going 3-of-7 from behind the 3-point line. UM only shot 30% from the floor, but took advantage of 29 free-throw opportunities, making 23, while Drake was just 5-of-8 at the line.