No. 19 Miami will be going for a 14th consecutive victory at home and stay in the hunt for the program’s second Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title when it hosts struggling Louisville Saturday night in Coral Gables, Fla.
The Hurricanes (19-5, 10-4 ACC) have never finished a season with a spotless home record since the program was revived in the 1985-86 season. They came close in 2015-16 with a 15-1 mark at the Watsco Center (then called BankUnited Center) but a loss to Northeastern in November marred the 16-game card.
Miami was 10-5 at home last year and lost their home finale to Virginia Tech.
Their 13th consecutive home win was a monstrous 81-59 rout of Duke Monday night before a capacity crowd of over 7,000 that impressed Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga.
“Everybody that came to tonight’s game is invited back,” Larranaga said. “That’s the kind of environment we’d love to have every night. The white-out, noise in the arena before the game even began, the students were packed back in the end zone, really that’s what ACC basketball has always been about — tremendous fan support.”
Another sellout is a possibility, of course, but expecting the Hurricanes to duplicate their performance against the Blue Devils may be a bit much. They shot only 47.8 percent from the field, forced the Blue Devils into 21 turnovers and won the rebounding by a 38-31 margin in leading wire-to-wire and by double digits over the last 27-plus minutes.
“Can we play like that again?” Larranaga said. “Well, yeah, we can, but the likelihood that you’re going to play at that level every single game is not realistic.”
Norchad Omier led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his 46th career double-double. It was the fifth double-double for the third-year sophomore transfer from Arkansas State in the last nine games.
“The elevation of his game, the advancement of his game offensively and defensively, is tremendous.” Larranaga said. “And he’s just scratching the surface. He has such a high ceiling because when you have his kind of athletic ability the sky’s the limit.”
Louisville, meanwhile, was at the other end of the spectrum the next night in a 91-57 blowout loss at Pitt. The Cardinals (3-21, 1-12) already have hit a program high in losses with seven games remaining in the regular season and are winless (0-7) on the road.
Leading scorer El Ellis (16.8 average) scored only seven points in the loss at Pitt, which is the same total he managed in an 80-53 loss to Miami in December in the two teams’ first meeting. He also had six turnovers in the loss to the Hurricanes.
First-year Cardinals coach Kenny Payne maintains confidence in the 6-foot-3 senior.
“I’m not worried about El bouncing back,” Payne said. “He will bounce back. He’s a competitor, He wants to be well, he wants to play well, he wants to do the right things. He’s a competitor. Probably right now like me he’s embarrassed.”
–Field Level Media