No. 19 Miami men’s basketball beat the Louisville Cardinals 93-85 on Saturday night at the Watsco Center. The win extends the Hurricanes’ home record to 14-0 and pushes Miami ahead of Clemson for third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
The ‘Canes’ offense was efficient, as they shot 53% from the field and 40% from 3-point range while going 23 of 27 from the free–throw line. Miami forward Norchad Omier, who shoots just above 68 percent from the line, went 9 of 10 there against the Cardinals. He ended up with 21 points and seven rebounds.
“That was one heck of a game,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We scored the ball very efficiently.”
Not only did Omier score 21, but Miami (20-5, 11-4 ACC) guards Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong had 22 and 21 points, respectively. Both shot over 50% from the field, despite taking difficult shots.
“Miami was prepared, played really well,” Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said. “We were hoping to defend them and make it tough, but defensively we didn’t bring enough effort to beat a team like this.”
Louisville (3-22, 1-13 ACC) had a great offensive night of its own. Star guard El Ellis had a career–high 33 points, and the Cardinals scored their most points in an ACC game this season.
“When a guy gets it going, not only does it mean he’s playing well, but often times it lights up his teammates,” Larrañaga said.
The Hurricanes knew not to count Louisville out, even though it was not the best team on paper.
“I feel like records don’t really matter in the ACC,” Wong said. “Everybody is tough. Everybody can beat you. Every game is going to be a great game. [Louisville] had a bad game last game, and they just wanted to come back and win.”
The ‘Canes had everything clicking from the moment the ball was tipped. Miami scored 14 points in the first five minutes of the game, which included nine points from Wong on perfect shooting from the field.
However, Louisville quickly returned the favor. The Cardinals went on a scoring tear late in the first half to erase a 10-point deficit and take the lead. Ellis led the offensive charge during that stretch, and he finished with 17 points at halftime. The ‘Canes barely led Louisville, 42-41, at the break.
“He’s one of the best players in the league; he’s a high-octane scorer,” Larrañaga said of Ellis. “We were guarding him really good, but he was just having a great night.”
Much like the first half, Miami came out hot in the second. The Hurricanes started the half by shooting a perfect 3 of 3 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free–throw line. On the defensive side of the ball, the ‘Canes made Louisville work for its baskets. Miami guard Bensley Joseph did a fantastic job locking down Ellis right after halftime, limiting him to just four points in the first eight minutes of the second half.
A couple of stops and a few points from Pack later, and Miami created enough separation to pull out the win.
The ‘Canes look to continue their four-game winning streak Monday against UNC at the Dean E. Smith Center. The Tar Heels are coming off a big win against Clemson on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff will take place at 7 p.m. on ESPN.