After the Miami Hurricanes’ most recent game, a loss at home to North Carolina, head coach Jim Larrañaga said, tongue-in-cheek, that he didn't think the Tar Heels missed a shot in the second half.
And even he was ill-prepared for the shooting display that the Syracuse Orange provided at the Carrier Dome, as the Orange, shooting a season team high 14 three-pointers on 30 attempts, downed UM 73-53 on Thursday night.
Miami (9-9, 1-5 ACC) came into the game having lost four of the past five matchups, all Atlantic Coach Confrence games, while Syracuse (13-5, 5-1) entered Thursday with the exact opposite conference resume.
Elijah Hughes led both the Orange’s three-point fiesta and his team in scoring. The transfer from East Carolina scored a career-high 22 points while shooting 6-9 from three-point range, setting the tone for his teammates from tipoff to buzzer.
Buddy Boeheim, son of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, came off the bench to score 12 for the Orange, including a 3-6 shooting night from three-point range. The freshman is heating up as the season progresses, having just scored a career-high 13 points against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Tyus Battle, the Orange’s leading scorer on the season, was held to 10 points.
UM didn't have the shots to keep up with Syracuse, shooting just 34 percent overall and under 28 percent on three-pointers. DJ Vasiljevic, Miami’s primary shooting threat, led the Canes in scoring Thursday but with only 11 points on 3-8 three-point shooting, foreshadowing a rough night offensively for the Hurricanes.
Nobody else from UM scored more than Zach Johnson’s nine points. Ebuka Izundu did come close to his seventh double-double of the season with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Chris Lykes and Sam Waardenburg also struggled. Lykes—who has scored at least 17 points in each of UM’s last six games, and has lead the team in points in five of those games—was held quit tonight with just eight. Meanwhile, Waardenburg returned to the starting lineup, only to go scoreless.
Facing Syracuse’s traditional 2-3 zone defense, Miami came out in their own version of zone, holding the lead for much of the game before halftime, by as much as six points at roughly the halfway point of the first half.
The battle of zone defenses made it hard for both teams to establish a rebounding strategy based on traditional blocking out. Miami, having struggled in the department all season, out-rebounded the Orange 39-27 in one of the few silver linings for the Canes.
UM used this edge to establish their lead and keep the game close through halftime, trailing just 32-29 at the intermission.
Syracuse however, extended their lead to double digits after the break, igniting an extended run that saw them outscore the Hurricanes by 17 in the second half.
With the loss, Miami now sits in the ACC’s basement along with Notre Dame and Wake Forest.
Miami travels home to take on the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. at the Watsco Center. The Canes will look to avenge a 68-62 loss in Tallahassee on January 9.