North Carolina broke a three-game losing streak and a fifteenth-ranked Miami team searching for consistency failed in another road challenge as the home team prevailed, 85-69.
“I thought our foul trouble was very much an indication that we weren’t as sharp,” stated Canes head coach Jim Larranaga post-game—a common theme for UM; 3-3 its past six games after a blazing 13-1 start to the season.
Miami trailed by 10 midway through the first half, pulled to within five by halftime and again found itself trailing by 10 early in the second.
Davon Reed hit a 3-pointer with 4:35 remaining, cutting the lead to five—but it was all North Carolina State from there, the Wolfpack outscoring the Canes, 21-5 down the stretch. Miami showed some fight but the effort was quickly extinguished.
Reed finished 12 points, going 3-for-7 from the field and hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, while Sheldon McClellan led the Canes with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting—2-of-9 from three-point range. Angel Rodriguezfinished with 15 points and a game-high six assists, while Ja’Quan Newton tied a career-high with four steals.
Wolfpack guard Anthony Barber—the ACC’s leading scorer—was relentless with a 10-of-18 performance and a perfect 10-of-10 in free throws, en route to a 30-point afternoon in Raleigh. Miami hit 15-of-16 from the line—all in the second half, leading to some understandable frustration from the Canes’ bench regarding early missed calls.
Still, the bigger issue is Miami’s lack of consistency—falling to a North Carolina State squad ranked dead last in the division and third-to-last in conference. The Canes are also showing a lack of toughness and inability to succeed outside their home court at The BUC.
3-3 on the road, Miami’s three wins away from home came at Nebraska, La Salle and Boston college, while struggling against formidable foes in Charlottesville, Greenville and Raleigh, earlier today.
With ten regular season games remaining, it’s not time to sound the alarm—but there’s certainly reason for concern. Miami looked complete in a home win over Duke last Monday night.
After putting on a show for a packed house, the Canes whooped it up in the locker room—something that came off like a bit of an over-celebration for regular season win over a lower-ranked traditional power.
The “act like you’ve been there before” adage came to mind; prompting a notion here days back that a win over the Blue Devils was all for naught if Miami didn’t take care of business at North Carolina State. They didn’t.
The Canes now have to quickly regroup for a Wednesday night showdown against Notre Dame; entering the game on a loss, where last week was a essentially a draw—winning a big match-up and losing a bigger one.
The Fighting Irish are coming off an 81-66 loss at Syracuse, dropping them to 14-6 on the season. This week’s showdown is the first of two games between Miami and Notre Dame over the coming weeks; a trek to South Bend on March 2nd, looming.
Prior-to, the Canes face three ranked teams over an eight-day span; at North Carolina (2/20), Virginia (2/22) and Louisville (2/27), before closing with the Irish (3/2) and Virginia Tech (3/5)
Miami gets two more road challenges before it’s trip to Chapel Hill, taking on Georgia Tech next Sunday and Florida State in Tallahassee the following weekend. In between, home games against the Panthers and Hokies.
While the parity in Atlantic Coast Conference basketball is arguably the best in the nation, fact remains these Hurricanes are comfortable at home and seem to wilt in even semi-hostile road conditions.
Not exactly a recipe for success with a conference championship in Washington D.C. and a 5-0 road record against the nation’s best, in order to win a title once March Madness gets underway.
Road Warriors, Miami. Wins are home are easy. Getting road-tough in the key to becoming a champion.