December 25th, 2012.
Going in to yesterday, Miami had not lost a game since that day in history, when they lost to Indiana State.
Since that day, Miami fans have been blessed by one of the best stretches in team history. 14 straight wins. 13-0 to open conference play. 27 point win against Duke. 26 point win against UNC. 2 wins against Florida State. Last second magic against NC State. Defense, offense, you name it – Miami thrived.
And then yesterday happened. Miami waltzed in to Wake Forest with their heads held high. Too high. The Canes looked right past Wake Forest, and probably even past Virginia Tech, straight to March 2nd – The rematch against Duke, at Cameron Indoor. Wake Forest came out and hit Miami in the gut immediately, and the Canes never fully recovered. The deficit ballooned to 19 in the first half, and the Canes were fortunate to cut it to 13 going in to half time.
The second half opened with Miami being much more aggressive and energetic on defense. With 11:42 remaining in the game, the Hurricanes trailed by just 5. Kenny Kadji drove to the basket, turned it over, and that was all she wrote. Miami never got close again. Wake Forest ultimately won the game 80-65, and for the first time (I’m assuming this) in program history, a team stormed the court against the Canes, as opposed to vice versa.
But here’s the thing – this isn’t a big deal. The Canes were never going undefeated in the ACC. The last team to do that (according to @MiramarSports on twitter)? Duke in 1999. The last team to finish the ACC schedule with less than two losses? Duke in 2000.
Listen, this Canes team is special. There’s no denying that. They’ve broken records. They’ve received the attention of Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, which doesn’t seem all that special, but when you consider how little people normally care about Canes hoops, this is a big deal.
But the win streak was going to end eventually. It just was. Winning on the road in conference at the rate Miami was winning is damn near impossible. Ask Kansas how they feel about playing at TCU. Ask Florida how they feel about Arkansas. They can attest to exactly what Miami went through today. It’s just hard to win on the road in conference as often as the Canes were.
But here’s the thing: In the long run, this game is probably a good thing. As Shane Larkin put it, this was a wakeup call. The Canes now realize they aren’t above anybody – they have to earn their wins, and that starts with effort, something they were seriously lacking against Wake Forest.
So sit back. Relax. Enjoy the ride. We’re two weeks away from winning the ACC regular season title, and we’re about to enter the NCAA tournament as a top 2 seed.
It’s all good.