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This Week in Miami Hurricanes Basketball: 2/20 Edition

The guys’ winning streak is now at six games. The ladies split their two ACC contests.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Miami (FL) Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday afternoon and happy President’s Day! I hope at least some of you are off today. Anyone watch the NBA All-Star weekend festivities or check out the latest version of the XFL? I did not.

Anyway, we’re back for another week of Miami Hurricanes Men’s and Women’s Basketball. The guys won at UNC on Monday night, then came home to top Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon. The ladies beat Clemson at home on Thursday night, but could not get past Syracuse on the road yesterday.

The guys moved up two spots to #13 in today’s AP Top 25 Poll.

Last week:

I recapped Miami’s 80-72 road win over UNC. Overall, it was an exciting game to watch. The Tar Heels may be having a down year, but they still possess a ton of talent and can play good basketball for long stretches on both ends of the floor. I’ll add two points to my recap. First, the Canes did a great job in the second half not allowing UNC’s guards to get to the rim, as it was an issue in the first twenty minutes. Miami defenders (Omier specifically) started showing as high as possible on pick-and-rolls. This strategy forced UNC’s guards to keep the ball outside the paint, and as a result, jack up a bunch of three-pointers. The Tar Heels finished 5-31 from long range on the day. My second point I had mentioned in my ACC preview article: UNC has no bench. I wasn’t scared of anyone on that team who didn’t start. They simply don’t have a guy that comes in and gives them a spark. That said, it’s still crazy that this team might not make the NCAA Tournament this year.

The guys returned to the friendly confines of the Watsco Center for their 96-87 win over Wake Forest. Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack combined for 51 points, 5 rebounds. 7 assists, and 5 steals. They shot 18-33 from the field overall, 6-11 from three-point range, and 9-11 from the free-throw line. Wowza. That kind of guard play can and will win games in March. Pack is playing his best basketball of the year at the perfect time. I’ve liked his calm demeanor this entire season. Pack has definitely had his struggles but never seemed to get too down on himself or lose his confidence. Good thing, because he is a special shooter. I love how his offensive game pairs with Wong’s. This backcourt duo is the driving force behind Miami’s recent offensive surge: the Canes are averaging more than 86 points per contest during their current six-game winning streak.

Now, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t have at least one critique of this team that I love. The defense has me somewhat concerned. The Canes gave up 85 points to a bad Louisville team, with El Ellis torching them for a career-high 33 points. They then let Wake Forest hang around too long by allowing 15 made three-pointers. The Demon Deacons had six players score in double-figures. Don’t get me wrong, the Miami’s offense is scary good. I just get nervous thinking about them going cold in the second round of the NCAA’s against some less talented Power 5 program or small school. I’d love to see some smart and aggressive defense these last three regular season games. Miami won’t have their incredible Watsco Center crowd behind them for the ACC Tournament and beyond. Defense travels.

The Lady Canes began their week with a 59-54 home win over Clemson, giving them the season sweep. Destiny Harden had her third double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Haley Cavinder also had 17 points. Daisha Bradford led the Tigers with 18 points and 4 steals. Miami won this game in the second quarter, outscoring Clemson 23-11. Harden and Cavinder combined for 14 points in the frame, scoring 7 each while not missing a shot.

The ladies could not pull out a road win against Syracuse on Sunday, falling 77-68. Destiny Harden led the way again for Miami with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Lola Pendande chipped in 15 points on 7-10 shooting. The Orange had a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double-figures. Georgia Woolley and Dyaisha Fair led the way with 14 points each. Miami couldn’t overcome an 8-point first quarter deficit. I looked at ESPN’s Bracketology today and the Lady Canes are currently a #9 seed. Not bad considering some of their losses this season. They can improve that number by a couple if they pull out their last two games this week and make some noise in the ACC Women’s Tournament.

This week:

The guys play twice this week. They first travel to Blacksburg, VA to take on Virginia Tech on Tuesday, 2/21 at 7:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on ESPNU. The Canes will be looking for the season sweep against the Hokies after beating them 92-83 three weeks ago. I expect this game to come down to the last couple possessions, as per usual. Miami then comes home to host rival Florida State on Saturday, 2/25 at 4:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on ESPN2. The Canes already beat the Noles on the road a month ago. Our guys can’t afford a letdown game against an FSU squad having a down year.

The ladies play their last two games of the season this week. They first travel to Louisville to take on the Cardinals on Thursday, 2/23 at 6:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on ACC Network. Louisville is one game ahead of Miami in the ACC standings. Topping them would be a huge road win for Coach Meier’s squad. The Lady Canes come home to play Virginia on Sunday, 2/26 at 12:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on ACC Network. This is their first and only matchup of the season. The Cavaliers started the season strong, but have lost eight of their last nine games.