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MBB Stuns No. 16/18 Louisville, 78-72

by Alex Schwartz

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team, with just seven available scholarship players, knocked off No. 16/18 Louisville, 78-72, Saturday night at the Watsco Center.

The Hurricanes, who led for over 35 minutes and by as many as 15 points in the top-20 triumph, got a career-high 30 points from sophomore guard Isaiah Wong, the most by a Miami player in nearly four years.

“I thought our defense in the first half allowed us to have a 12-point lead at the half and I think that gave our guys some confidence,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Second half, it was a dog fight and we competed very hard. They did a great job of coming back, but we had enough in us and made enough good offensive plays.”

The Hurricanes made seven of nine shots during a span of 6:07 in the first half, putting together a 14-2 run to take a 25-12 lead with 6:12 on the clock. Louisville (9-2, 4-1 ACC) pulled back within seven, but Miami (6-6, 2-5 ACC) scored the final five points of the half, including a 3-pointer by freshman forward Matt Cross with 12 seconds to go, and took a 33-21 edge into the locker room.

Miami held the Cardinals to 0-of-10 shooting from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes, while also posting a 24-14 edge on the glass, led by 10 rebounds from redshirt senior center Nysier Brooks. The 21 points marked the fewest the Hurricanes have conceded in a half in ACC play since Dec. 30, 2017.

Senior guard Elijah Olaniyi hit a 3-pointer to open the second frame and extend Miami’s lead to 15 points, 36-21. The Cardinals quickly countered with a 23-9 run, eclipsing their full first-half point total, to trim their deficit to one, 45-44, with 13:13 to play, but never drew even or went in front.

Miami answered right back with a 14-6 spurt—it included two 3-pointers by Cross and one by Wong—to make it 59-50 with 7:02 remaining. Louisville pulled within four with 2:21 left, but Cross drilled his fourth 3-pointer 52 seconds later to put Miami up by seven, 71-64.

The Cardinals never got closer than four the rest of the way, as Miami held on to hand Louisville its first loss of the year in which redshirt senior guard Carlik Jones, a frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, suited up.

In addition to setting a career high in points, Wong also did so in made field goals, as he went 12-of-20 from the field.

The Piscataway, N.J., native, who scored 21 points after halftime, also logged a career-best six assists, pulled down seven rebounds and tied his career high with three made 3-pointers on just five attempts. In addition, he committed zero turnovers in 38-plus minutes of action.

“He can really score the ball,” Larrañaga said. “He’s a very good free-throw shooter, he can shoot the three and he’s just terrific at getting in the paint and making plays.”

Cross tied his career high with 16 points, 13 of which came in the second half, and finished 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 at the line. Olaniyi logged season bests in points (15) and rebounds (10) to register his first double-double as a Hurricane. Brooks added eight points and a co-game-high 11 rebounds in the victory.

Jones paced the Cardinals with 25 points on 11-of-20 shooting, adding a game-high seven assists. Redshirt freshman forward Jae’Lyn Withers recorded 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbed 11 boards. Freshman guard/forward Dre Davis chipped in 11 points in the setback.

While Jones and Withers combined to shoot 19-of-29 (65.5 percent), the rest of Louisville’s roster posted a combined 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) clip. The Cardinals also finished just 3-of-20 (15.0 percent) from 3-point range, while Miami went 8-of-20 (40.0 percent).

“We told the players we’ve been very good against 2-point shooting teams,” Larrañaga said. “Our strategy has been to try to take away the paint, which is where Louisville tries [to score]. We were fortunate that they didn’t make enough threes to make us stretch our defense out. So, it was a very good team effort at both ends of the court.”

Up next for the Hurricanes is a matchup with Syracuse, Tuesday at 7 p.m., live on ACC Network from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

To keep up with the University of Miami men’s basketball team on social media, follow @CanesHoops on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The 2020-21 Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball season is presented by First National Bank.

MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES
– The Hurricanes moved to 5-13 all-time against Louisville, including 5-6 at home and 3-6 in Larrañaga’s tenure.
– Larrañaga, who entered the game with the 10th-most victories of any active Division I coach, is now 666-453 in 37 years as a head coach, including 196-119 in 10 seasons at Miami.
– For the fourth time this season, Miami used a starting lineup of Brooks, Olaniyi, Wong, sophomore guard Harlond Beverly and sophomore forward Anthony Walker.
– Miami once again played without all four of its four returning starters: senior guard Chris Lykes (left ankle), redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty (right hamstring), redshirt senior center Rodney Miller Jr. (right knee, season) and redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg (left foot, season).
­- Freshman guard Earl Timberlake, a top-40 recruit who has started the last three games, also missed Saturday’s game with a left arm injury.
– Saturday marked the Hurricanes’ first win over a ranked foe since 2/27/18 at ninth-ranked North Carolina, snapping an 18-game skid.
– Miami’s last home win over a ranked team was 1/7/18 versus No. 24/RV Florida State and its last home triumph over a team ranked in both polls was 2/25/17 against No. 10/11 Duke.
– This is the highest point total Louisville has allowed in an ACC game since conceding 82 on 2/24/20 at sixth-ranked Florida State.
– Only once this season—in the game Jones did not play—did Louisville allow a higher point total, as No. 12 Wisconsin posted 85 on 12/19/19.
– The 12/30/17 game in which Miami last allowed 21 points or fewer in a half in ACC play was at Pittsburgh and it conceded 19 before the intermission.
– Louisville’s 21 first-half points were the fewest Miami has conceded in a half since giving up 18 to La Salle on 11/22/18.
– The Cardinals’ 10 3-point attempts tied for the second-most without a make by a Miami foe since it joined the ACC in 2004-05 and it was the sixth time a team had double-digit attempts without a make, including the third in league action.
– The last time Miami allowed zero 3-pointers in a half was 2/13/19 versus Clemson.
– The Hurricanes’ 24 first-half rebounds marked their fourth-most in any frame this year and their top tally before the break since 2/9/19 at eighth-ranked North Carolina.
– The last time two Hurricanes had 10-plus rebounds in a game was 2/19/20 when Keith Stone (18) and Wong (12) did so in a triple-overtime win at Virginia Tech.
– Before Wong, the last Miami player to score 30 points in a game was Bruce Brown Jr., who had 30 on 1/28/17 versus No. 9/6 North Carolina and is the only other player in Larrañaga’s tenure to reach that mark in an ACC game or against a ranked team.
– Wong is the fifth Hurricane to score 30-plus points in Larrañaga’s tenure, joining Brown, Sheldon McClellan (31 on 11/25/14 at Charlotte), Durand Scott (32 on 3/16/13 vs. NC State in the ACC Tournament) and Kenny Kadji (30 on 1/2/12 vs. UNC Greensboro).
– According to ESPN Stats & Information Group, Wong is the first Miami player with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game in the past 25 years.
– Over the last 10 seasons, Wong is the 12th ACC player–17th occurrence–to log 30 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game and just the second to do so with zero assists, alongside North Carolina’s Marcus Paige (1/4/16 at Florida State).
– In the last 10 seasons, Wong is the fifth ACC player with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a game, joining Duke’s RJ Barrett (12/8/18 vs. Yale), Boston College’s Ky Bowman (12/9/17 vs. Duke), NC State’s Dennis Smith (1/5/17 vs. Georgia Tech) and NC State’s Anthony Barber (1/19/16 at Pittsburgh), with Wong the only one to tally zero turnovers.
– Wong is the third player to record 30 points, five rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers against a Division I foe this season, joining Jason Preston of Ohio (11/27/20 at Illinois) and Tommy Kuhse of St. Mary’s (12/15/20 vs. Eastern Washington).
– Wong is the fifth player to record 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists versus a Division I opponent this year, alongside Kuhse, Wyoming’s Hunter Maldonado (12/12/20 at Utah Valley), Coppin State’s Anthony Tarke (12/10/20 vs. UNC Greensboro) and Seattle’s Darrion Trammell (12/6/20 at Long Beach State), with Kuhse the only other to also log zero turnovers.
– The last player to score 30 points against the Cardinals was Pittsburgh’s Trey McGowens, who tallied 33 on 1/9/19.
– Wong is the first player to eclipse 20 in a frame against the Cardinals since Kent State’s Jaylin Walker had 21 in the second stanza on 12/15/18 and the first ACC player to do so since Pittsburgh’s Jamel Artis totaled 32 after halftime on 1/11/17.
– Wong is the second ACC player–Georgia Tech’s Moses Wright had 31 on 11/25/20 in a 4OT game against Georgia State–to score 30-plus points in a game this year, including the first to do so in league competition and first to do so in regulation.
– Wong’s 12 made field goals are the most by any player in the ACC so far in 2020-21.
– The 12 made field goals for Wong tied for the second-most by a Hurricane in ACC play and marked just the fourth time a Miami player has reached that mark in an ACC game, including the first since Jack McClinton at No. 4/3 Duke on 2/7/09.
– Wong, who surpassed 450 points and 150 made field goals as a collegian, scored in double figures for the 20th time, including the 10th this season, and scored 20-plus points for the ninth time, including the sixth in 2020-21.
– Brooks’ 10 first-half rebounds were the most by a Hurricane since Ebuka Izundu logged 11 before the intermission on 11/13/18 against Stephen F. Austin.
– Brooks, who reached 200 made field goals in his career, recorded his eighth double-digit rebounding performance, including his second at Miami.
– Olaniyi, who surpassed 1,200 points as a collegian, logged double-figure points for the 64th time, including the fifth at Miami.
– In addition, Olaniyi notched his eighth game with 10-plus rebounds and his eighth double-double, including his first of each as a Hurricane.
– Cross, who posted double-digit points for the fourth time, tied for the fifth-best single-game 3-point percentage by a Miami freshman in the ACC era (min. four 3PA), his second time doing so.
– Redshirt junior forward Deng Gak reached 50 points in his career.