Miami Basketball: Trey McKinney Jones Is Hurricanes' X-Factor in NCAA Tournament

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Miami Basketball: Trey McKinney Jones Is Hurricanes' X-Factor in NCAA Tournament
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes are in uncharted territory in winning both the regular season Atlantic Coast Conference title and the subsequent conference tournament on Sunday with an 87-77 victory over North Carolina.

In order for head coach Jim Larranaga's stunning two-year turnaround to result in substantial NCAA tournament success, though, Miami would benefit greatly if senior guard Trey McKinney Jones can fill it up more consistently.

McKinney Jones drained six three-pointers against the Tar Heels and notched a career-high 20 points. While that sort of production cannot always be expected, his recent hot streak from beyond the arc is very encouraging.

AP sportswriter Tim Reynolds created an interesting play on words with regard to McKinney Jones' exceptional performance.

Miami shoots just over 35 percent from three-point land, but the proverbial light bulb seems to have turned on at the right time for McKinney Jones, who had a relatively hot hand even prior to the UNC game.

Through six games in March, he has drained a shade under 49 percent of his shots from the field, including 14 of 28 shots from deep (h/t sports-reference.com).

That kind of efficiency would make the Hurricanes lethal in the Big Dance. Sunday was the grandest stage of McKinney Jones' career—and in the history of Miami's program—and he rose to the occasion.

Another element that makes him so valuable to the Hurricanes' bid for the Final Four is his free-throw shooting. If there is one glaring Achilles' heel with this overachieving squad, it's their .671 clip from the charity stripe.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The impressive 84.6 percent figure that McKinney Jones strokes it at should make him a go-to option when Miami has the lead late.

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There is not necessarily a correlation between the Hurricanes' success and McKinney Jones' scoring. But like the rest of the team, McKinney Jones is wildly inconsistent in terms of point production.

Taking as much of the pressure as possible off of the 'Canes' dynamic backcourt of Durant Scott and Shane Larkin will be critical to Miami's success. McKinney Jones proved he could get it done in crunch time on Sunday and should see more touches.

The Hurricanes made a strong case for a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday, but to truly be considered a national title contender, it's all about the offense.

To truly be a powerhouse and justify a top position in one of the bracket's regions, it will take an extraordinary scoring effort from Miami to keep up with the country's other elite teams.

McKinney Jones is a wild card, yet as he proved in the ACC final, he's fully capable of making that happen.

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