No. 8 Miami Faces First Loss of Season to No. 12 Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The eighth-ranked University of Miami men’s basketball (5-1) faced its first loss of the season Tuesday evening, falling, 95-73, to the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats (6-1) in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge at Rupp Arena.
“Credit to Kentucky, they were explosive,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Their size, athletic ability, shooting ability…they shot 42 percent from three and 59 percent overall and we just couldn’t guard them…We played totally out of character on offense and that impacted our defense.”
Fourth-year junior forward Norchad Omier poured in a team-leading 20 points for his third 20-plus point outing of the season. Junior guard Wooga Poplar joined Omier in double-figures with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Poplar has now scored in double-figures in six straight games to start the season.
Sophomore guard Chris Watson set a new career high in scoring with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting.
Poplar got off to a hot start, opening the game 4-for-4 from the field. However, Kentucky quickly found its rhythm and embarked on a 17-3 run to lead, 21-11, at the 11:39 mark of the first half. Freshman Kyshawn George put some life back into the Miami offense with the Hurricanes’ first 3-pointer of the game, which sparked an 18-2 run for the visitors.
Omier capped the run with a dunk to put Miami ahead, 29-23, with just under eight minutes to play in the frame. The teams traded baskets as the first half waned, but Kentucky scored the final eight points of the half to lead by five, 42-37, heading into the locker room.
The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas, opening the second half with a 12-2 run to make the advantage, 51-39, in favor of Kentucky. The Wildcats continued to pull away from the Hurricanes, ultimately outscoring Miami 53-36 in the second half to close out the victory.
Miami returns to Coral Gables, Fla., on Saturday to open Atlantic Coast Conference action against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Tipoff inside the Watsco Center is set for 12 p.m. and the game will air on The CW.