Where’s the fire?: Off-day activities in the Erwin Center were briefly interrupted shortly after noon Saturday when an alarm sounded and the arena was evacuated.
Austin Fire Department said the reason for the evacuation was a fire alarm that was triggered by a “minor mechanical issue.”
The alarm sounded at approximately 12:20 p.m. and the all-clear was given about 12:45 p.m.
Miami was holding its closed practice in the building at the time of the alarm. Because of the disruption, the practices and media sessions for the four teams was pushed back 30 minutes for the rest of the day.
The Hurricanes — players, certainly not coach Jim Larrañaga — filled their unexpected break with some free-style rap.
“I’m the best freestyler but I didn’t freestyle today,” said senior center Reggie Johnson, a 6-foot, 10-inch, 292-pounder. “I’d say maybe Shane (Larkin) was the best today.”
Why didn’t Johnson give it a go? “You’ve got to pay me,” he said with a laugh. “None of those guys showed me any money so I didn’t freestyle.”
Another tough test: Guard Brandon Paul, Illinois’ leading scorer on the season (16.6 ppg), is used to facing opponents’ best defenders. In Austin, though, he’s getting more than his share.
Friday he dueled with the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year in Colorado’s Andre Roberson. Sunday, the assignment will be Miami’s Durand Scott, voted the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top defender.
“Obviously he’s a great defender, playing on a great team that has had a lot of success this year,” Paul said of Scott. “But I’ve played against tough defenders my whole life, and these are the moments you get up for as a top player.”
Against Roberson, Paul made just three of 12 shots but finished with 17 points thanks to a 9-of-10 free-throw showing.
No surprise here: The Cinderella story of the tournament is Florida Gulf Coast University, whose 15th-seeded Eagles recorded the stunner of the early rounds with a 78-68 upset of second-seeded Georgetown on Friday in Philadelphia.
But Miami knows about the fledgling (six years in Division I) Fort Myers program — all too well. The Eagles upended the Hurricanes 63-51 in the second game of the season.
“I just know that everybody on our team picked them to win that (Georgetown) game,” said Canes’ forward Kenny Kadji.
Added forward/center Julian Gamble: “They’re a little bit similar to us in that they play with a chip on their shoulder… . I wasn’t surprised at all.”
Miami didn’t have Scott, the Hurricanes’ second-leading scorer as well as best defender, that game. But Kadji refused to use that as an excuse.
“I knew that that was not a fluke,” he said of FGCU’s victory over the Canes.
Brother Act?: Minnesota’s starting backcourt of Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins are both from the Memphis area. They both wore No. 20 in high school — “a weird coincidence,” Andre said — and they both made their way to Minneapolis for college.
But those are where the outward similarities end. They aren’t real-life brothers.
“But we’re like brothers,” stressed Austin, whose father, Lionel Hollins, is head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Austin, a junior, attended Germantown High School in a Memphis suburb; Andre, a sophomore, attended White Station High in Memphis.
“We were familiar with each other,” Andre said. “He’s one of the deciding factors in me (signing with Minnesota). He was my host when I visited. We’re really tight to this day.”
Batmen: Two days after Minnesota’s practice was spiced by the appearance of one of Austin’s famous bats, a couple of more paid a visit to Florida’s practice Saturday in the Erwin Center.
Center Patric Young said neither he nor coach Billy Donovan were fazed by the visitors.
“He (Donovan) was like — what did he say? — if you get bit, I’ll pay for your medical bills,” Young said, evoking laughter in the interview room. “