MBB Downs Wake Forest, 96-87

MBB Downs Wake Forest, 96-87

by Alex Schwartz

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team used an efficient offensive attack to withstand Wake Forest’s scorching 3-point shooting in a 96-87victory Saturday afternoon at the Watsco Center.

Fourth-year junior guard Isaiah Wong recorded a game-best 27 points for No. 15/13 Miami (22-5, 13-4 ACC), as the Hurricanes posted their sixth consecutive victory and moved to 15-0 on their home court.

Third-year sophomore forward Norchad Omier scored Miami’s first nine points, including the game’s opening seven, to help the Hurricanes build an 11-3 edge after fewer than three minutes. The Hurricanes started 11-of-14 through 11 minutes, including hitting four shots in a row, but led just 25-24, as Wake Forest (17-10, 9-7 ACC) opened 9-of-12 through nine minutes at the other end.

The Demon Deacons took a 32-29 lead with 6:01 left in the half, but Wong exploded for a personal 13-0 run in just 1:52, flipping the score into a then-game-high 10-point Miami lead, 42-32, with 3:53 on the clock. At that point, the Hurricanes were a blistering 18-of-23 (78.3 percent) from the floor as a team.

Wake Forest answered back with a 10-2 burst of its own and Miami eventually took a 47-44 advantage into the locker room behind 20-of-30 (66.7 percent) shooting. The Demon Deacons went 16-of-31 (51.6 percent) from the floor through 20 minutes, including 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) on 3-pointers, to go along with a perfect 5-of-5 mark at the stripe.

The Hurricanes scored the first 11 points of the second half, in just 2:15, to up their cushion to a game-best 14, 58-44, with 17:45 to go. Wake Forest trimmed the margin down to just three, 71-68, with 8:55 to go, but Miami recovered and pushed the advantage back to 12, 90-78, with just 3:12 remaining.

The Demon Deacons got no closer than six the rest of the way, as the Hurricanes won by nine and, despite having a non-conference game canceled in December, became the first ACC team to reach 22 victories this season.

Both teams made over 55 percent of their shots and over 42 percent of their 3-pointers. Miami went 37-of-63 (58.7 percent) overall and 8-of-16 (50.0 percent) from deep, while Wake Forest notched 32-of-58 (55.2 percent) and 15-of-35 (42.9 percent) figures, respectively.

The Demon Deacons also made all eight of their free throws, but Miami forced 19 turnovers that led to a 34-12 edge in points of giveaways and a 20-5 cushion in fast-break points. The Hurricanes’ 96 points tied their highest mark ever in an ACC regulation game.

Wong’s 27 points, his second-most this season, came on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor, a 2-of-3 clip from deep and a 7-of-9 mark at the line. He became the eighth Hurricane to eclipse 1,700 career points in the win and passed Jack McClinton for seventh place on the program’s all-time scoring list.

Third-year sophomore guard Nijel Pack scored a season-high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including a 4-of-8 mark on 3-pointers. He added four assists and a career-high-tying four steals, the latter mark leading all players.

Omier totaled 17 points on a 7-of-8 clip, including 13 on 5-of-5 shooting in the first nine minutes, and paced the Hurricanes with eight rebounds. Fifth-year senior guard Jordan Miller added 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with six boards.

Wake Forest finished the day with six players with double-digit points, the first team since March 2021 to do against Miami. Graduate student guard Tyree Appleby, the ACC’s leader in both scoring and assists, finished with team highs in each category, with 15 and a game-best nine, respectively. However, Miami forced him into 12 turnovers, four more than his prior career high and the most by any Division I player since November 2021, as well as the most ever by a Hurricane foe.

Sophomore guard Cameron Hildreth and redshirt junior forward Damari Monsanto tallied 14 points apiece, the former notching eight assists. Junior forward Andrew Carr, sophomore center Matthew Marsh and graduate student guard Daivien Williamson each logged 12 points, with Marsh shooting 5-of-5 from the floor.

Miami is back in action Tuesday at 7 p.m. with its road finale, a matchup with Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., live on ESPNU.

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

– Saturday’s crowd of 7,972 marked Miami’s second sellout in its last three home contests, alongside the 2/6/13 matchup with RV/No. 24 Duke.
– Miami’s 66.7 percent field-goal clip before the break was its best in a half this season, far surpassing the prior mark of 61.9 percent (13-of-21) in the second half at NC State on 1/14/23.
– The Hurricanes’ 37 made field goals set a program record in ACC competition, surpassing the prior mark of 35 set on both 2/20/08 versus No. 5/4 Duke and 1/19/05 against fourth-ranked Duke.
– The only other time the Hurricanes scored 96 points in an ACC regulation game was 2/20/08 in a win over No. 5/4 Duke.
– Before Saturday, the last team with six double-digit scorers against the Hurricanes was Boston College on 3/5/21.
– The Demon Deacons’ 15 3-pointers tied for the third-most ever by a Miami opponent in ACC play.
– Appleby’s 12 turnovers far surpassed the prior top total of eight by an opposing player against Miami in head coach Jim Larrañaga’s 12-year tenure, a mark previously held by Lehigh’s Lance Tejada (11/9/18) and Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije (1/2/16).
– The previous all-time mark for most turnovers in a game by a Miami foe was 11 by Lehigh’s Zlatko Savovic (12/27/01).
– Prior to Appleby notching 12 Saturday, the most turnovers in a game by an ACC player this season was eight, recorded four times by four different players, including Appleby.
– The previous top mark for turnovers by a DI player this season was 11, recorded twice, by both Tulane’s Jalen Cook (2/4/23 at Memphis) and Merrimack’s Jordan Minor (12/11/22 vs. Maine).
– Appleby became the sixth DI player in the last 13 seasons with 12-plus turnovers in a game and the first since Oakland’s Jalen Moore had 13 on 11/19/21 at West Virginia.
– The lone other Power Six player with 12 turnovers in a game over the past 13 years was Oklahoma’s Trae Young, who posted that mark on 1/16/18 at Kansas State.
– Miami’s 96 points eclipsed the 88 by North Carolina on 1/4/23 for the most by any team against Wake Forest this season.
– The Hurricanes have now played every team in the conference at least once and defeated all but two of them, one of which (Pittsburgh) it plays again.
– At 15-0 on their home court, the Hurricanes have tied their best such stretch to open a season in program history.
– In scoring the game’s initial seven points, Omier, who hit a 3-pointer on Miami’s opening possession, eclipsed his total from the last contest at North Carolina on 2/13/23 in the first 102 seconds.
– Wong surpassed Jack McClinton (2006-09) for seventh place on the Hurricanes’ all-time scoring list with 1,710 points.
– Wong moved past Durand Scott (2009-13) for eighth place on Miami’s all-time made field goals list with 584.
– Wong surpassed Ron Godfrey (1958-61) for fifth on the Hurricanes’ career free-throw attempts list with 474.
– Wong moved past Eric Brown (1985-89) for third place on Miami’s all-time minutes played leaderboard with 3,764.
– Wong now owns 33 20-point performances as a Hurricane, tying Mike Wittman for the seventh-most in program history.
– Wong moved past Anthony King (2004-08) for fifth on the Hurricanes’ all-time ACC-only career rebounds leaderboard with 320.
– Wong moved past Anthony Lawrence II (2015-19) for second place on the program’s ACC-only career steals list with 74.
– Wong passed his own mark in 2020-21 and Jack McClinton (2008-09) for sole possession of second place on the program’s ACC-only single-season free throws made leaderboard with 76.
– Wong moved past Garrius Adams (2013-14), Angel Rodriguez (2014-15) and himself in 2020-21 for fourth place on the program’s ACC-only single-season free-throw attempts list with 89.
– Omier surpassed Tonye Jekiri (2015-16) and Reggie Johnson (2010-11) for second place on Miami’s ACC-only single-season rebounds list with 161.
– Pack passed Davon Reed (2016-17), Jack McClinton (2006-07) and Robert Hite (2005-06) for third place on Miami’s ACC-only single-season made 3-pointers leaderboard with 49.
– Miller moved past Guillermo Diaz (2004-06) for sixth place on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only career steals list with 58.
– Pack, whose prior season best was 23 on both 11/23/22 against St. Francis Brooklyn and on 2/13/23 at North Carolina, has scored 20-plus points in four of the last five games after doing so just twice previously this season.
– The lone previous game in which Pack, who tied his season best in made field goals, had four steals was during his Kansas State tenure, on 2/5/22 at TCU.
– Omier reached both 900 rebounds and 100 steals as a collegian in the victory.