The University of Miami has never been ranked as high as No. 2 in the NCAA, so they no doubt have been feeling some extra pressure the last week. For a team that wasn’t in the Top 25 until Week 12 (of 16), to get to No. 2 as quickly as they did was nothing short of remarkable. The Hurricanes debuted on the AP Top 25 in Week 12 at No. 25 with a 13-3 record, the following week they skyrocketed up the list to No. 14 after wins over No. 1 Duke (90:63) and Florida State (71:47). The following week they moved up to No. 8, then No. 3, and in the most recent poll they were at the No. 2 spot.
Miami has been played remarkable basketball and was on a 14-game win streak, the streak includes 13 games against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponents.
By contrast, Wake Forest came into Saturdays contest with an 11-14, 4-9 in the ACC. In their last 10 games they were 2-8, losing to University of North Carolina by 25, Maryland by 26, Georgia Tech by 20.
Then Wake Forest opened Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday to the Hurricanes, and 12,037 fans.
In a post-game interview, sophomore guard Shane Larkin stated that he felt things were off, that the team was moving slower than their normal fast-paced tempo.
“You could just see it tonight. I had a bad feeling coming into warm-ups with everybody going slow,” Larkin said. “I was trying to get people to go fast, and I wasn’t even going full speed like I should have.
“Overall, we weren’t prepared before the game and they came out and punched us in the mouth.”
As many coaches say, you play like you practice/warm-up. Miami never found their groove and that punch in the mouth turned into a huge upset as the Demon Deacons handed the Hurricanes their first ACC loss on the season, 80:65.
Basketball isn’t just about numbers, but these are pretty telling:
Field Goal Percentage (inside the arc): WF – 54.2%; Miami – 39.1%
Field Goal Percentage (behind the arc): WF – 58.3%; Miami – 38.1%
Free Throw Percentage: WF – 67.7%; Miami – 53.8%
Wake Forest was led by CJ Harris, who dropped in 23 points, including slicing the cords 5 of 5 times from behind the arc and 7 of 13 inside. Harris’ backcourt partner, Codi Miller-McIntyre added 15 points, shooting 6 of 8 from inside the arc. Another key to the contest was the fact that the much smaller Demon Deacons hung with Miami on the glass, thanks in part by Travis McKie’s 10 defensive boards.
By halftime Wake Forest had built a 13-point advantage, 42:29.
Miami had an early 7:10 lead, then with the score 14:15, the lid fell on the iron for the Hurricanes and they wouldn’t score again for nearly six minutes, while their hosts would knock down 10, to get up 24:15. Miami got their first points after calling a timeout, but Harris hit a triple immediately after and then another one after both clubs missed lay-ups. With 2:55 to play in the half Tyler Cavanaugh connected on a three-ball that would start a 9:0 run to get Wake up by 19, 42:23, with a minute and ten seconds to play before the intermission. Kenny Kadji dropped a triple for Miami and then Larkin connected on one of his own with six clicks on the clock, sending the teams to their dressing rooms with the score 42:29.
Things started looking good for Miami in the second half as they were able to slice into the deficit early on. With just under fourteen minutes to play they had knocked the gap down to five, 43:48. Unfortunately, Wake Forest went on a 10-point run shortly after to get up 45:62 with seven minutes remaining. After exchanging baskets for a couple of minutes, the hosts found themselves on the charity stripe and taking advantage of the Miami generosity for putting them there. McKie hit four in a 20 second span that pushed his team’s advantage to 20 with two minutes to play. Miami was able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities down the stretch and were able to cut into the lead when Wake Forest split free throw pairs, but in the end the margin was too much to overcome and the flat Hurricanes had their first ‘L’ of the ACC season.
Miami got 17 points from Durand Scott, 13 from Larkin, 11 from Trey McKinney Jones, and 10 points and 6 rebounds from Kadji.