Dropping their fourth conference matchup in the last five, the Miami Hurricanes were unable to spark a winning streak of their own in the Atlantic Coast Conference and instead handed the Boston College Eagles their first ACC win on the season.
Guards Rich Kelly and Jay Heath combined for 52 points, forward Steffon Mitchell finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Boston College (3-9, 1-5 ACC) converted on 18 3-point field goals to sink Miami (5-6, 1-5 ACC) on Tuesday night at Conte Forum (Chestnut Hill, Mass.), 84-62.
The Canes shot 2-of-16 from 3-point territory, despite making five in their impressive road win against NC State on Saturday, while committing 12 turnovers and allowing the Eagles 21 fast break points. UM and Boston College each corralled 34 rebounds, however.
One might point to the underachieving and overall frustrating practice on Monday that burned Miami in a disappointing 40 minutes and rather lack of overall progress displayed on national television. The team supposedly missed countless layups and exhibited carelessness in handling the basketball before traveling up to Boston on Tuesday morning.
“I thought Boston College was very sharp from start to finish, and we were awful,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “It [poor productivity in practice] carried over to tonight.”
Establishing a 10-point halftime lead, Boston College was nowhere near finished with their relentless offensive attack. Kelly and Heath scored 27 of the program’s 40 points posted after the intermission, as Kelly, a Quinnipiac graduate transfer, scored three-straight threes, while Steffon Mitchell drained three 3-point baskets in the first half.
“When one guy starts making it, it has like a snowball effect,” said Larrañaga on Boston College’s ability to spread their perimeter attack, entering the game with a collective 32 percent average from downtown. “We told our guys Rich Kelly’s having a great year, he’s shooting the ball extremely well. Jay Heath is just a very good all-conference-caliber guard. They just torched our backcourt like we weren’t there.”
Senior center Nysier Brooks and Stony Brook transfer guard Elijah Olaniyi would each tally 14 points on the night, and freshman guard Earl Timberlake would score eight of a total 12 in the second half. Their numbers would not make up for the Canes’ dreadful 3-point shooting performance, nonetheless, as the program shot just 2-of-16, with Olaniyi making both triples.
“I think it’s the lack of Chris Lykes and Kam McGusty’s 3-point shooting,” said Larrañaga on why Miami has not been able to buy many threes all season. “They’re overhelping on the drive and forcing him [guard Isaiah Wong] to throw it to a guy who doesn’t shoot threes and we took 16 of them. When you count on guys to make threes that aren’t there, it falls on someone else’s shoulders. We’re just not good at making threes.”
Miami has sorely missed Lykes, who has been sidelined since Dec. 4 after suffering a severe ankle sprain versus Stetson, as his return still remains unknown. McGusty, who played against Clemson on Jan. 2, is nearing a potential return but has remained bothered by his nagging hamstring injury. McGusty recently received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection to help accelerate the healing process, which according to Larrañaga, will keep him out of the rotation for at least 10 days as the redshirt senior has not practiced since the loss to the Tigers.
“He played against Clemson, [and] did a nice job,” Larrañaga said. “But by playing against Clemson, he irritated that injury and has got to have a different kind of treatment to help improve the hamstring, so he can get back and play.”
The Canes (literally) hobble back to Coral Gables, Fla., again searching for an ounce of resilience as they will welcome No. 16 Louisville on Saturday night. The Cardinals defeated the oft injured Hurricanes by double-digits in each contest last season, but do not return former stars in Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton who have departed for the NBA. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network at 8 p.m.