Miami’s Comeback Falls Short Against No. 3 North Carolina

Miami’s Comeback Falls Short Against No. 3 North Carolina

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team’s (15-9, 6-7 ACC) second-half comeback fell just short as the Hurricanes faced a 75-72 setback to the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels (19-5, 11-2 ACC), Saturday afternoon at the Watsco Center.

“I thought that was a heck of a college basketball game,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “The thing about North Carolina is that they’re exceptional at running the court. They outran us in the first five minutes and we fought back and had a one-point lead at the half. And then they came out and did the same thing and we were down 10 again. We fought back and put ourselves in a position to win the game late but were not able to pull it off.”

Fourth-year junior guard Nijel Pack eclipsed the 20-point mark for the fourth time this season, with 20 points, while junior guard Wooga Poplar totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds for his third career double-double. Fourth-year junior forward Norchad Omier recorded his ACC-leading 13th double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Tar Heels scored 10 of the first 12 points of the game and extended their lead to as much as 12, 20-8, in the first 10 minutes of action. However, Pack got the Miami offense going with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Hurricanes to within one at the 3:59 mark of the first half.

Poplar put Miami ahead for the first time in the game with a driving layup, drawing a foul for an old-fashioned 3-point play. Pack finished the first half shooting 7-of-9 from the field, highlighted by four 3-pointers, to give Miami a 41-40 advantage at halftime.

Cleveland knocked down a 3-pointer to open second-half scoring for the Hurricanes, but North Carolina quickly responded with a 14-2 run to retake the lead, 54-46, five minutes into the second half.

The Tar Heels led by 12, 68-56, at the 7:42 mark in the second half until Poplar fueled an 8-2 Miami run to pull the Hurricanes to within two, 73-71, with just over a minute to play.

Ultimately, the Tar Heels knocked down a pair of free throws in the final minute of the game to solidify the 75-72 North Carolina victory.

The Hurricanes head north for a two-game road trip, beginning with a matchup against the Clemson Tigers in Clemson, S.C. on Wednesday. Tipoff in Littlejohn Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN.