Five minutes of insanity: inside Nijel Pack’s tremendous scoring run against VT

Miami talks it over between plays against Virginia Tech at the Watsco Center on Jan. 31. Photo credit: Reese Putnam


That is how Hurricanes guard Nijel Pack described his incredible stretch against Virginia Tech on Tuesday night, when he scored 17 points in five minutes late in the second half to lift Miami men’s basketball over the Hokies, 92-83, and extend its 12-0 record at the Watsco Center this season.

“I feel like if I had shot it from half-court, I could have messed around and made it,” Pack said. “My teammates believed in any shot I took.”

Everyone believed in every shot that Pack took on Tuesday night. As soon as he released his fifth three-pointer, ‘Canes fans and players began to cheer, erupting when it fell through the bottom of the net.

“I remember I took one, and I was kind of facing out of bounds, and [everyone] was already standing up,” Pack said. “It was really fun to play with this crowd, especially behind me. My teammates – you can watch any video, and I bet their hands are up, and the ball is already midway through the air. The confidence my teammates give me is really what gets me going.”

The incredible shooting display came in all different styles and distances. Pack’s first 3-pointer was a catch-and-shoot 3 about 26 feet away from the basket. His second was a pull-up from just shy of the “U” logo at midcourt, and his third triple was a difficult fadeaway.

Pack’s fourth 3-pointer was off a screen while driving towards the baseline from about 25 feet out, and his last one was a side-step triple that made Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, Sean Pedulla, lose his footing. Pack also scored a layup amid the chaos.

For many, it was an experience rarely seen on a basketball court.

“I have seen [a performance like Packs] by like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard, actually. Never in-person,” Miami guard Harlond Beverly said. “Just to see him get going like that was a great moment for all of us to see.”

However, Beverly wasn’t the only person who compared Pack’s shooting to Steph Curry.

“His shooting is as good as you can get. Is it Steph Curry? Probably!” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “He can shoot the ball from that deep [effortlessly].”

So far from 3 this season, Pack has made 41% of his shots – a mark that is among the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). He has also averaged 14.8 points in his last five games.

Pack, a transfer from Kansas State this past offseason, had already made his mark with his spectacular shooting before Tuesday night. However, his 17-point performance made a lasting impression on all who watch Hurricanes basketball.

No. 23 Miami looks to keep up its winning form against No.20 Clemson on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will air on ACC network.