Miami Takes Down UCF, Raises Final Four Banner
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team moved to 2-0 on the season with an 88-72 victory over the UCF Knights (1-1), Friday night at the Watsco Center.
Prior to the game, the Hurricanes raised the Final Four banner in front of a sold-out crowd, recognizing the accomplishments of the 2022-23 team.
“It was a magical season and it took a total team effort,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “When you look, it’s not just our basketball team, it’s the university’s commitment. It’s the administration, it’s the faculty…it takes all that.”
As a team, the Hurricanes knocked down 10 threes for the second time this week, shooting 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from beyond the arc.
Junior Wooga Poplar led the Hurricanes in scoring for the second straight game, pouring in 23 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The guard was a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range, tying the program record for single-game 3-point field goal percentage (minimum four attempts). Poplar rounded out his career high with four rebounds and two blocks.
Fourth-year forward Norchad Omier recorded his second double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Three other Hurricanes joined Poplar and Omier in double-figures–fourth-year junior Nijel Pack (11), junior Bensley Joseph (15) and junior Matthew Cleveland (12).
Joseph’s 15 points mark a new career high in scoring for the guard and he also recorded five rebounds, five steals, five assists and a team-best four blocked shots in the game.
“It was a terrific win,” Larrañaga said. I think Central Florida is going to have a heck of a year. They have a lot of speed, quickness and scoring ability. Our guys did a good job from start to finish.”
The Hurricanes connected on their first three shots of the game to take an early 8-2 lead in the first half. Poplar was a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the first half, pacing the Hurricanes with 11 first-half points.
Three other Hurricanes tallied a 3-pointer in the first 20 minutes of action, including two from Joseph, who accumulated eight points, two rebounds and three assists. As a team, Miami shot 46.7 percent from the field in the first half to take a commanding 41-27 lead into the locker room.
Miami extended its lead to as much as 18 in the second half, but the Knights slowly crept back in the game, embarking on an 8-2 to make it an eight-point game with 8:01 to play in the game. Omier and Cleveland each knocked down a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to double-digits, 72-62, and Poplar sealed the win with his fifth three of the game with 2:09 to play.
The Hurricanes next take the floor on Monday when they will host the FIU Panthers for a crosstown rivalry game. Tipoff at the Watsco Center is set for 7 p.m.