It took the Miami Hurricanes two months to crack the Top 10 and two games over a five-day span to give it all a way.
That’s not to say UM basketball can’t turn things around between now and the ACC Tournament, but head coachJim Larrañaga and staff have the work cut out as there’s been some backsliding this week.
Miami fell to 13-3 on the season and 2-2 in conference play with 76-65 loss at Clemson on Saturday afternoon. The Canes appeared to have the Tigers on the ropes, up 57-51 with just over seven minutes remaining.
From there, Clemson tore off a 25-8 run to close things out—which Miami helped by way of sub-par defense, turnovers, fouls, ill-advised shots and a few airballs, for good measure. It was a repeat of a sloppy loss at Virginia days back, only worse.
Davon Reed led the Canes with 17 points, going 6-for-12 in field goals, including 3-for-5 beyond the arc.
From the time Miami called a timeout with 5:47 remaining until the clock his zero, the possessions: turnover, turnover, missed jumper, missed three-pointer, foul, turnover, missed three-pointer, missed free-throw, made free throw, foul, turnover, defensive rebound, two made free throws, foul, turnover, foul, missed three-pointer, two-point tip shot, game.
Unfortunately a ninety second stretch late in the second half will define Reed’s day as he missed three shots—including two three-pointers—and turned the ball over, leading to a Donte Grantham jumper that gave the Tigers the late lead they never relinquished.
Sheldon McClellan followed with a 14-point outing, but went into a scoring drought from the nine-minute mark in the second half and disappeared from that point on.
Jaron Blossomgame put up 25 points for Clemson, followed by Jordan Roper, who had 18. Grantham finished with 14 and all together the threesome was 6-for-10 beyond the arc and 20-for-35 in field goals.
For Miami, serviceable outings from Reed and McClellan while Angel Rodriguez pulled another disappearing act; going 1-for-7 for three points on the day. Ja’Quan Newton also did little with his 24 minutes, going 2-for-8 with eight total points.
The Hurricanes led 34-32 at the half and traded blows early in the second period, before that colossal unraveling.
That’s not taking anything away from a Clemson squad riding a four-game win streak, having taken down Duke, Louisville, Syracuse and Florida State since early January. It’s simply pointing out that Miami’s late game breakdown was damn near unfathomable.
Clemson was a perfect 15-for-15 from the free throw line, including 6-for-6 in the game’s final 1:16. There were also a handful of steals by the Tigers and some clutch rebounding leading to that late-game takeover.
Regarding some of the nitty-gritty, it marked the first game this season where the Canes lost when leading at the half—previously 11-0. Miami also fell to 2-7 all time at Clemson; reinforcing the toughness of playing in the home of traditional ACC programs.
The Canes turned it over 13 times to the Tigers’ eight and had the ball stolen eight times, while only coming away with it four. It also marked the first time UM out-rebounded a foe (32-30) this season and lost.
As mentioned day’s back in the wake of a road loss at Virginia, there’s lots of basketball left to play—and taking on a streaky Clemson team at their house in the wake of a frustrating road loss in Charlottesville; not what the doctor ordered.
That “road warrior” mentality will have to continue for Miami one more game as the Canes trek to Boston College on Wednesday night for as showdown in Chestnut Hill. After that, back-to-back home games against Wake Forest (1/23) and Duke (1/25) before wrapping January with a road game at North Carolina State (1/30).
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, the Eagles are a hot mess—riding a four-game losing streak, falling to Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Duke and are 7-10 overall on the season. The Demon Deacons aren’t faring much better at 10-7, dropping four of their past five, not counting tonight’s showdown at North Carolina.
Winning ways should resume for Miami over the next two games, but all eyes will certainly be on a Monday night home game against Duke later in the month—another true litmus test to see where this program at before the final five weeks of the regular season.