The Miami Hurricanes and the UCF Knights faced Friday night in a thrilling basketball game that kept fans on the edge. The Watsco Center atmosphere was electric as the Hurricanes raised their 2023 Final Four Banner into the rafters before tip-off to remember their incredible March Madness run. They kept the night in high spirits as they beat the Knights 88-72.
“It meant everything. I mean you know It was really special, but I feel like we still got way more work to do,” said junior guard Bensley Joseph. “We obviously aren’t just satisfied with the Final Four. We want to get over the hump and get to the next step.”
From the opening tip-off, both teams demonstrated their speed and power. The Miami Hurricanes showed their fast-paced style, and the UCF Knights brought a tenacious defense. The first half set the tone for the game as the Hurricanes and Knights exchanged baskets in a display of skillful ball movement and precise shooting.
The Hurricanes took an early lead with a series of impressive three-pointers.
Miami headed into halftime, leading UCF 41-27. Miami shot 44% from behind the 3-point line, while UCF only shot 18% before the half. However, UCF won the offensive rebounding battle in the first half, beating Miami 7-0.
The second half saw a shift in momentum, with the Knights mounting a comeback fueled by their aggressive defense and strategic offensive plays. They continued to respond to the Miami offense with a gritty defense that disrupted the Hurricanes’ flow and narrowed the point differential to 6 points with 6 minutes remaining in the second half.
The Hurricanes soon regained control, utilizing their speed and offensive precision to extend their lead. Miami, determined to secure the win, responded with composure and exceptional shooting that maintained their lead to the final buzzer.
“It’s a terrific win,” said Coach Jim Larranaga. “I think Central Florida is going to have a heck of a year.”
Bensely Joseph proved to be the player of the game, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals, and four blocks.
Junior Wooga Poplar also had an impressive night, leading the Hurricanes in scoring with 23 points. He also finished with four rebounds, two blocks, and one steal.
Junior Norchad Omier showed dominance on both ends of the floor, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, one block, and four steals.
The Canes finished the game shooting 51% from the field, 48% from 3, and 87% from the free throw line. They also finished with 13 total assists, 29 rebounds, 11 blocks, 14 steals, and 16 personal fouls.
The Miami Hurricanes and UCF Knights showcased the essence of college basketball, leaving fans anticipating the next thrilling matchup against FIU on Monday at 7:00 p.m. at the Watsco Center.