With 1.4 seconds left in the game and down two points, UCF tried to purposely miss a free throw. However, ‘Canes guard Jordan Miller tipped the ball away as time expired, giving Miami a tight 66-64 win on Sunday evening.
The Hurricanes got revenge on the Knights, which beat Miami 95-89 at the Watsco Center last season. However, with a plethora of roster changes on both sides, the ‘Canes got the better of UCF in the Addition Financial Arena this year.
“Clutch performance versus an outstanding UCF team. [UCF head coach] Johnny Dawkins has done an amazing job,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “They’ve got size, they’ve got athletic ability, and they’ve got shooting ability.”
UCF was certainly the bigger of the two teams, but it was not great from deep. The Knights shot 45% from the field yet only 4-17 from three-point range.
Two players were in double figures for UCF: Darius Johnson, who had a game–high 24 points, and Brandon Suggs, who scored 11. Both players came off the bench for the Knights, as the highest scoring tally for a starter was Taylor Hendricks’ eight.
Miami, on the other hand, had a much more even scoring distribution. Four out of the five starters scored in double digits, with the exception being guard Isaiah Wong (3-10 on the night, 1-5 from 3).
“Darius Johnson was impossible to guard, but our guys rose to the occasion; they put us in a position to win. At the end of the first half, we did a great job, got a six-point lead. And then, at the end of the game, guys stepped up and made big plays,” Larrañaga said.
One of those guys was skillful scorer Nijel Pack. He had one of his most efficient performances as a Miami Hurricane. Pack led Miami players with 16 points while shooting 7-10 from the field and dishing out three assists. 14 of his 16 points came in the second half.
The entire team stepped it up in the second half, shooting 50% in the period. However, Miami had its own struggles from behind the arc, shooting 2-7 in that same half.
Jordan Miller had a great game of his own. He contributed 11 points, three rebounds and two assists. However, it was his defense and screens that were his strongest contributions to Miami’s victory.
Next up, the ‘Canes will play in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Rutgers at the Watsco Center. Tip–off will take place at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday.