Hurricanes Defeat Highlanders to Open 2023-24 Season
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team (1-0) opened the 2023-24 season in dominant fashion, defeating the NJIT Highlanders (0-1), 101-60, Monday night at the Watsco Center.
The Hurricanes’ 101 points were the most by a Miami team since 2007-08, when the Hurricanes eclipsed the century mark with 104 points against Florida Southern.
“It was a really good night for us,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We shared the ball very well. We ended up with 23 assists and we scored the ball from three, from two, from fast breaks, so it was a good night for us.”
A trio of Hurricanes scored in double-figures, led by junior guard Wooga Poplar who poured in a career-high 21 points in the contest. Poplar also paced the Hurricanes in 3-pointers, knocking down 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Fourth-year junior forward Norchad Omier and junior guard Matthew Cleveland each recorded a double-double in the contest, the 52nd and 14th double-doubles of their careers, respectively. Omier finished the night with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Cleveland notched 16 points and 10 boards in his first game as a Hurricane.
As a team, the Hurricanes shot 54.2 percent from the field and totaled 23 assists on 39 made field goals. Fourth-year junior guard Nijel Pack tied his career high in dimes with a team-best nine assists in the game.
The Hurricanes used a 44 percent (8-of-18) effort from 3-point range in the first half to jump out to an early 20-point lead, 52-32, in the first 20 minutes of action. NJIT cut Miami’s lead down to six with 8:41 to play in the first half, but back-to-back threes from Pack and Poplar extended Miami’s lead back to double-figures.
Five different Hurricanes scored in the final seven minutes of the first half to make it a 20-point Miami advantage heading into the locker room.
Omier came alive for the Hurricanes in the second half, totaling nine points and eight rebounds in just 12 minutes of action after the break.
A second-chance dunk by Omier at the 13:24 mark in the second half sparked a 21-0 run for the Hurricanes, during which seven different Miami players tallied a bucket. Up 40, the reserves took the floor for the Hurricanes and maintained the 40-point advantage, closing out the game in favor of Miami, 101-60.
The Hurricanes are back in action on Friday when they host the UCK Knights at 7 p.m. in the Watsco Center. The game will air on ACC Network Extra.
A banner-raising ceremony will take place prior to tipoff, commemorating the Hurricanes’ 2023 Final Four appearance.