After starting off the season with 10 straight wins, Canes hoops has struggled to find consistency going 2-2 in their last 4. While their first loss was to an upstart New Mexico State squad looking to break into the top 25, the latest letdown came against a severely outmatched conference foe in Georgia Tech, who lost 7 of their 13 non-conference games to start the season. Here's why Wednesday's performance was as bad as it could get for the Canes:
Georgia Tech's weaknesses were Miami's strengths
Georgia Tech was one of the worst offensive teams in all of college basketball, averaging only 66.4 points per game, while Miami is ranked 2nd in the NCAA in points allowed at 58.9 points per game. Aside from sophomore guard Josh Okogie's dominant performance (30 points, 9 rebounds), Georgia Tech had a very ordinary performance on the offensive end. The Yellow Jackets only shot 39% from the field and only hit 1 shot from behind the arc. Miami didn't need a herculean performance on either end of the floor to win this game, and yet they still took home a loss.
Miami is too inconsistent on offense
Even in the games the Canes win, there are scoring lulls that paralyze Miami's offense. On Wednesday, the Canes had scoring droughts of 5:40 and 6:22 in each half. The first scoring drought let Georgia Tech close an early deficit, and the second let the Yellow Jackets build a lead that the Canes would never overcome. The Canes only solid performer on Wednesday was Dewan Huell, who scored 13 points on 4-7 shooting, and he took the 6th most shots for Miami. That means 5 Canes we shooting more and with less accuracy than Huell, which obviously is an issue. This is likely a result of Miami failing to move the ball and create penetration against Georgia Tech's zone defense. It's not the first zone defense the Canes have seen this season, and there's no excuse for Miami to shoot that poorly.
The competition only gets tougher from here
Georgia Tech will likely finish towards the bottom of the ACC standings, so the Canes will be kicking themselves for a while for letting this game get away from them. In the ACC, every game counts with 5-6 strong contenders for the ACC title. The Canes next 3 games are all against ranked opponents who are much more talented than Georgia Tech. The Canes start off with an athletic team in Florida State, who took down defending national champs North Carolina on Wednesday. Clemson will be as close to a trap game you can get for a ranked opponent. And rounding out the tough stretch will be the Duke Blue Devils, who have 2 of the best players in the country in Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley Jr. propelling them to the nation's 2nd best offense. Miami will have to find a solution for their offensive woes to come out of this tough stretch unscathed.
While a tough schedule adds more pressure to a Canes Hoops squad in desperate need of a win, it also presents an opportunity to nullify the effects of an ugly loss to a lesser conference foe. The Canes will look for the polar opposite of their last performance when they return to the Watsco Center on Sunday. I think we will see a Miami team closer to the one that started off 10-0 than the shadow we saw in Atlanta when the rival Seminoles come to town this weekend.