Pack’s big second half leads Miami over Virginia Tech, 92-83

The team gathers between plays to stratigies for their next play against Virginia Tech at the Watsco on January 31. Photo credit: Reese Putnam

Miami men’s basketball defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies in dramatic fashion, 92-83, on Tuesday night at the Watsco Center.

Guard Nijel Pack scored 17 points in the last eight minutes to help the ‘Canes take the crucial Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) matchup in a barnburner.

“We’re very fortunate to come away with the win,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “I think our guys really played well and it’s a good ACC home win.”

Third-year sophomore forward Norchad Omier led Miami (17-5, 8-4 ACC) in scoring with 21 points, which tied a season-high. He also added a team-high eight rebounds. Omier was followed in scoring by fourth-year junior Isaiah Wong’s 18 points.

Guard Isaiah Wong protects the ball as he approaches Viriginia Tech's zone defense on January 31 at the Watsco Center.
Guard Isaiah Wong dribbles the ball as he approaches Virginia Tech's zone defense on Jan. 31 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Reese Putnam

Virginia Tech (13-9, 3-8 ACC) was paced in scoring by guards Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor, who had 20 points each.

The first half was characterized by high scoring and saw both teams trade baskets and leads throughout. The first 20 minutes included 11 lead changes as Miami shot 60% on field goal attempts while Virginia Tech made 63%.

Less than five minutes into the game, the Hokies grabbed a 16-8 lead on 6-of-6 shooting from the field. However, Miami quickly battled back to go up 28-22 halfway through the first half.

By halftime, neither squad was able to truly distance themselves, but the Hurricanes held a 45-44 advantage. The ‘Canes were aided by 16 points from Wong and 10 points from fifth-year senior guard Jordan Miller.

Fifth-Year Senior Jordan Miller protects the ball against Virginia Tech at the Watsco Center on January 31.
Fifth-Year Senior Jordan Miller protects the ball against Virginia Tech at the Watsco Center on January 31. Photo credit: Reese Putnam

Omier came out hot to start the second half, scoring nine points in the first five minutes while not missing a shot. Still, Miami could not pull away from the Hokies and their lights-out 3-point shooting.

Miami’s shooting cooled down at the beginning of the second half, but it countered by turning Virginia Tech over 14 times, creating 24 points off those turnovers to stay in the contest.

With 5:56 remaining, Miami grabbed a 74-69 lead following back-to-back triples from third-year sophomore guard Nijel Pack, sending the Watsco Center into a frenzy of cheers. Still, just as they did all game, the Hokies responded by tying the game at 76.

However, Pack put Miami up eight with 2:28 left with another pair of 3-pointers. The Kansas State transfer was scoreless until the 7:35 mark of the second half but still ended the game with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc.

“I felt like if I would’ve shot it from half-court, I could have made it,” Pack said.

With a handful of defensive stops and some free throws down the stretch, the Hurricanes iced the game and came out with the victory. The game ended with a rejection at the rim by Omier, followed by a thunderous dunk by sophomore forward Wooga Poplar.

No. 23 Miami will be back in action this Saturday on the road against the 20th-ranked Clemson Tigers, who are first in the ACC. Tip-off at Littlejohn Coliseum is set for 3 p.m. on ACC Network.

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