MBB Tops No. 25 Pittsburgh, 78-76, for Share of ACC Title

MBB Tops No. 25 Pittsburgh, 78-76, for Share of ACC Title

by Alex Schwartz

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami basketball team registered a historic 78-76 victory over No. 25 Pittsburgh in front of a sold-out Watsco Center crowd Saturday night, clinching an ACC regular season co-championship.

Behind a team-high 18 points on 6-of-8 long-range shooting from sophomore guard Wooga Poplar, No. 16/15 Miami (24-6, 15-5 ACC) took down the Panthers in a de facto conference title game. In doing so, the Hurricanes earned the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament for the second time in program history.

The Hurricanes went scoreless for four-plus minutes midway through the first half and Pittsburgh (21-10, 14-6 ACC) logged an 8-0 run at the other end to take a 25-20 advantage with 7:48 on the timer. Miami, though, countered with a 13-2 surge in 2:51, capped with back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomore guard Wooga Poplar, to take a 33-27 lead with 4:35 left in the frame.

Miami went on to take a four-point cushion, 42-38, into the break. It shot 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) from the free-throw line through 20 minutes, while the Panthers went just 2-of-3 (66.7 percent) at the stripe. The Hurricanes also had a 22-9 edge on the glass, including a 7-1 ledger on the offensive end that equated to a 16-2 margin in second-chance points.

The Hurricanes upped their lead to eight with 16:21 left in the half on Poplar’s fourth 3-pointer in as many attempts and then pushed it to nine, 57-48, with 13:54 to go. The lead remained nine, 66-57, with seven-and-a-half minutes remaining, but Pittsburgh hit a pair of 3-pointers to make it 66-63 with 6:06 on the clock.

Miami extended the lead back to seven, 76-69, with 1:03 left, but Pittsburgh cut it down to two, 78-76, on a 3-pointer by junior forward Blake Hinson with 13 seconds to play. Following a missed free throw at the other end, Panthers had a chance to win at the buzzer, but a 35-foot heave by Hinson bounced off the rim, sending the Miami bench and student section streaming onto the court in jubilation.

The Hurricanes led for 31-plus minutes, including for the entirety of the second half, and compiled a 42-20 margin on the glass. That included a 14-3 tally on the offensive end for a 25-7 final total in second-chance points. Both sides shot over 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from deep, but Miami had an 87.0 percent (20-of-23) ledger at the line compared the Panthers’ 73.3 percent (11-of-15) clip.

Poplar, who tripled his career high in 3-point makes, also pulled down five rebounds in the win. Fifth-year senior guard Jordan Miller amassed 17 points and eight rebounds, shooting 4-of-5 from the floor and 8-of-8 at the line in his final home game.

Third-year sophomore guard Norchad Omier recorded 15 points and a game-best 13 rebounds, the second mark giving him 196 total in ACC play this season to tie a program record. Third-year sophomore guard Nijel Pack and fourth-year junior guard Isaiah Wong each scored nine points, the latter notching a team-best four assists and finishing 7-of-9 from the stripe to reach 87 makes in ACC action this year, setting a new program high.

The victory, in addition to claiming a banner for the Watsco Center, served as the 250th of head coach Jim Larrañaga’s stellar 12-year tenure at Miami.

Following a double-bye, the top-seeded Hurricanes open play Thursday at noon in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals in Greensboro, N.C., with their opponent still to be determined.

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

– Miami recognized four players pregame during senior day festivities: Miller, Wong, fourth-year junior guard Harlond Beverly, fourth-year junior guard Filippos Gkogkos and fourth-year junior forward Anthony Walker, with all but the injured Gkogkos starting in just the team’s third different lineup of the season.
– The Hurricanes’ regular season conference crown is their third in program history, joining a 2012-13 outright ACC title and a 1999-2000 BIG East shared title.
– The only other time the Hurricanes earned the No. 1 seed in a conference tournament, regardless of league, was in 2012-13.
– Miami finished the regular season 4-0 against top-25 opponents, with each of the four contests a ranked matchup.
– The Hurricanes’ 24 regular season wins tie for their most in program history, matching the marks in both 2012-13 (24-5) and 2015-16 (24-6).

– Miami’s 15 ACC victories match the mark set in 2012-13 (15-3) for the most in single season in program history.
– The Hurricanes finished the year 16-1 at home, good for their most such wins ever in a single season and their second-best such winning percentage (.941) in a campaign behind only 1960-61 (15-0).
– The other nine seasons in which Miami did not lose multiple home games were 2015-16 (15-1), 2012-13 (14-1), 1967-68 (12-1), 1964-65 (14-1), 1962-63 (13-1), 1960-61 (15-0), 1958-59 (13-1), 1927-28 (6-1) and 1926-27 (7-1)
– In addition to logging his 250th victory in 12 years at Miami, Larrañaga recorded the 720th of his head coaching career, passing Don Haskins for sole possession of the No. 32 spot on the all-time wins list (min. five years at a Division I school).
– Larrañaga moved to 31-6 on senior day in his 37 years as a Division I head coach, including 10-2 at Miami.
– Wong tied Anthony King (2003-08) for ninth place on Miami’s career starts list with 105.
– Wong surpassed Johnny Hemsley (1996-2000) to enter the top 10 on the Hurricanes’ career 3-point attempts leaderboard with 488.
– Wong finished seventh on the program’s ACC-only single-season free-throw percentage list with a/an 84.5 mark.
– Wong surpassed Sheldon McClellan (2015-16) for the program’s ACC-only single-season made free throws record with 87.

– Wong eclipsed Guillermo Diaz (2004-05) and tied Sheldon McClellan (2015-16) for the program’s ACC-only single-season free-throw attempts record with 103.
– Wong passed Chris Lykes (2017-18) and Malcolm Grant (2009-10) to move into a tie with Anthony Harris (2005-06) for eighth place on Miami’s ACC-only single-season assists list with 59.
– Wong eclipsed four Hurricanes to place sixth on the program’s ACC-only single-season minutes leaderboard with 655.
– Miller tied Guillermo Diaz (2004-06) for ninth place on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only career made field goals leaderboard with 213.
– Miller passed Jack McClinton (2007-08) and Isaiah Wong both last year (2021-22) and this year (2022-23) to finish in fifth place on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season scoring list with 312 points.
– Miller moved past his own mark last year and Dwayne Collins (2006-07) to enter the top 10 on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season rebounding list with 118.
– Miller finished ninth on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season field-goal percentage list with a 54.1 mark.
– Miller surpassed multiple players to enter the top 10 on Miami’s ACC-only single-season made free throws list with 59.
– Miller eclipsed both Kameron McGusty (2021-22) and Bruce Brown Jr. (2016-17) for sixth place on the program’s ACC-only single-season assists leaderboard with 62.
– Miller surpassed five players to break Miami’s ACC-only single-season minutes played list with 695, two above DJ Vasiljevic (2019-20)
– Omier tied  Tonye Jekiri (2014-15) for the program’s ACC-only single-season rebounding record with 196.
– Omier finished seventh on Miami’s ACC-only single-season field-goal percentage list with a 56.5 mark.
– Omier eclipsed four players to finish tied for fifth alongside Angel Rodriguez (2014-15) on the program’s ACC-only single-season free-throw attempts leaderboard with 81.
– Omier moved past Kenny Kadji (2011-12) for sole possession of third place on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season blocks list with 27.
– Pack finished eighth on Miami’s ACC-only single-season 3-point field-goal percentage list with a 43.3 mark.
– Poplar finished fourth on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season 3-point field-goal percentage leaderboard with a 45.1 ledger.

– Miller’s eight made free throws set a season high, while his eight attempts and 39 minutes both matched season bests.
– Poplar started 5-of-5 from 3-point range after never making three 3-pointers in a game in the first 63 outings of his career.
– Poplar’s six 3-pointers were not only the most by a Hurricane this season, but the highest mark in nearly 14 months, dating back to 1/5/22 when Charlie Moore made six against Syracuse, and tied for the second-most by a Miami player in Larrañaga’s 12-year tenure.
– Poplar became the eighth Hurricane—11th occurrence—under Larrañaga to make six 3-pointers in a game, including just the fourth on eight or fewer attempts, with Kameron McGusty on 12/20/21 versus Stetson the last to do so.