Happy Monday morning. We’re another week into December and the weather is turning in Florida. It’s dropping into the 40s at night and it’s only going to get colder for Christmas. I shouldn’t have bragged about the warm weather here last week. Damnit. Anyway, we’re back for another week of Miami Hurricanes Men’s and Women’s Basketball. The ladies didn’t play last week. The guys won their only game of the week, beating St. Francis (PA) at home on Saturday.
Before I get to their win, the guys are ranked! Miami came in at #25 in last week’s AP Poll. We’ll see if they move up a couple spots when the new rankings come out later today. Two things are obvious: If Miami loses to Virginia on Tuesday, they’re out of the Top 25. If Miami beats Virginia, they should receive a nice bump.
The Canes took care of business on Saturday when they completed the season sweep against schools named St. Francis, 91-76 at the Watsco Center. Isaiah Wong led Miami with 22 points and 10 assists. Wooga Poplar scored a career-high 20 points. Bensley Joseph filled in nicely for Nijel Pack, with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Pack was sidelined with an undisclosed illness. We wish him a speedy recovery. The Canes played a strong second half to beat the Pennsylvania version. However, Miami reverted to their early season first-half struggles, trailing St. Francis at several points. The Canes needed a buzzer-beating dunk from Wong to tie the game going into halftime. The second half was a different story for the home team. Miami’s offense started clicking early, with Wong leading the way.
Speaking of Isaiah Wong, he was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former point guard Shane Larkin is the only other Miami player to win the award. Wong averaged 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists in the two games he played (vs Cornell and vs NC State). Further, he only committed one turnover in his 69 minutes of game action. As I’ve written previously, Wong has taken a big leap so far this season. He is Miami’s best and most consistent player on both sides of the ball. On offense, it’s not close. Wong can create his own shot better than any of his teammates. Also, his passing has improved greatly; he’s averaging a team-high and career-high 4.4 assists this season. On defense, Wong is averaging a career-high 1.9 steals per game. Those steals usually lead to fast-break buckets for him and his teammates. I will keep repeating it: Isaiah Wong is a First-Team All-ACC player at this point in the season. Let’s see how far he can take his team against the rest of the conference.
The guys have one huge home game this week, as they take on the Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday, 12/20 at 8:30 PM EST on ACC Network. Virginia lost their first game of the season on Saturday against #5 Houston. The Cavaliers were ranked #3 at the time. They’ll be looking to rebound against a one-loss, Top 25 ranked conference foe in Miami. The Canes will have to play their best game of the season to win. If Nijel Pack isn’t available, Miami’s rotation will probably tighten up. I don’t see Coach L playing inexperienced freshmen against a team with Virginia’s defensive reputation. Let’s hope the Watsco Center crowd shows up in force on Tuesday night! Get your tickets!
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*Must purchase by 3 PM Tuesday: https://t.co/PCOpQJluIq pic.twitter.com/DKrAKr0Hvb
The Lady Canes take on their in-state rival Florida State Seminoles on Wednesday, 12/21 at 12:00 PM EST at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, FL. Television coverage has not yet been announced. This is the conference-opener for both teams. Miami has struggled recently, losing three of their last four games. On the other side of the spectrum, FSU enters the matchup on a six-game winning streak. The Lady Canes want to start ACC play with a victory, as their schedule gets real tough, real quick. Their next four games are vs #5 Notre Dame, at Pittsburgh, vs #7 UNC, and vs #6 Virginia Tech. It’s nice to have the highly-ranked contests at home, but that is a gauntlet nonetheless.
It should be an interesting week for both squads. If the guys take down Virginia, how high will they be ranked next week? Let us know in the comments below.