Good afternoon college basketball fans. There are a bunch of good games on the docket today. In ACC news, Virginia Tech upset Virginia at home. Good stuff. The top of the ACC standings is much more crowded after today.
The Miami Hurricanes went on the road and beat the Clemson Tigers today, 78-74. Nijel Pack led the Canes with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Isaiah Wong chipped in 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Wooga Poplar had 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. PJ Hall led the way for the Tigers with 19 points and 5 rebounds. Miami improves to 18-5, 9-4 ACC. Clemson falls to 18-6, 10-3 ACC.
Below are some random thoughts from today’s game.
Pack came to play
Based on his on-and-off-again performances, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nijel Pack today. Good thing for Canes fans, he showed up in full force. I loved his aggressiveness on offense. Pack wasn’t on fire from long range, shooting 2-7 from three. He shot 4-7 from inside the arc; scoring from a mixture of off-the-dribble jump shots and lay-ups. More importantly, Pack made all six of his free throws. He doesn’t get to the line often, but shoots 84% when he gets there. I hope this is the Nijel Pack that shows up every game from here on out. If so, the Canes are a dangerous NCAA Tournament team.
A few, quick complaints
1. Anthony Walker attempted two three-pointers. I’ll let you guess how many he made. 2. Harlond Beverly was a net positive today, but he had two bonehead plays that killed momentum. 3. Wong committed two of the laziest turnovers I have ever seen in the first half. ACC games are close. Miami can’t just give away possessions, no matter how early in the game they are. That’s it. The Canes’ second half performance on offense won them the game. I loved the shot making.
Wooga is gaining confidence at the perfect time
The best athlete on Miami’s roster is playing better lately. Poplar had a strong start to the season, then cooled off for most of the Canes’ ACC games. Today, he showed up in a big way. Wooga scored his 14 points on 4-5 shooting and 4-4 free-throws. Hashtag efficiency. He also played suffocating defense against Hunter Tyson in the second half, holding Clemson’s leading scorer to only 2 points after halftime. Wooga at his best adds another dimension to Miami’s potential as they head into the home stretch of conference play.
This was a BIG win for our guys
The Canes needed an ACC road win. The Canes needed two ACC wins in a row. The Canes needed to close out a game with some competence. The Canes needed to keep up with Clemson and the rest of the teams at the top of the conference. The Canes will be looking for revenge against Duke on Monday night. Miami has the home court advantage this time. The Watsco Center should be rocking!