Failing to recover from a 17-0 run allowed in the first half, the Miami Hurricanes fell on opening night at the Watsco Center, 87-74 to the Louisville Cardinals Tuesday.
Playing an ACC game on opening night, UM fell in a season opener for the first time since 2013-14, when they lost to St. Francis in overtime, 66-62.
“I though Louisville was very good from start to finish,” said coach Jim Larrañaga. “They’re projected to be a number one seed and I thought they played like that. They’ve got their five veteran starters from last year.”
“Just got to give credit to Louisville,” said Hurricanes guard Chris Lykes. “They played a good game. I thought they were more gelled together.”
Miami’s hopes of pulling off an upset of the No. 5 team in the country evaporated nearly as fast as the they let an early 16-9 lead slip away, as a 36-10 extended run in the last 11:45 of the first half from the Cardinals gave the visiting team a 45-26 lead.
“We turned the ball over and gave them some easy opportunities,” said Larrañaga.
By halftime, the Hurricanes had already allowed 16 points off nine turnovers, eight second choice points, and nearly 1.3 points per possession.
Miami was outshot in total field goals 54-43%, and 47-42% on three-pointers. Louisville out-rebounded the Canes 40-35, and scored 42 points in the paint to UM’s 28. The Hurricanes also shot a measly 4-11 from the free throw line.
Louisville stretched their lead by as much as 32, with 9:48 remaining in the second half.
Larrañaga on where he believes his team stands after one game. pic.twitter.com/HurlgJag0Y— Austin Pert (@AustinPert98) November 6, 2019
Chris Lykes led Miami with 18 points, with 14 of them coming in the second half. DJ Vasiljevic scored 16 points with after shooting 4-7 on three-point field goals, and Kameron McGusty registered 12 points in the Oklahoma transfer’s first game as a Hurricane.
Each member of the freshman class entered the conference contest off the bench, with Harlond Beverly leading the first-year players in minutes with 21. He scored nine points, best among the freshmen along with Anthony Walker. Isaiah Wong also added a basket for UM.
Larrañaga expects the newcomers to be able to build off their first game. “I thought all three are better than they played tonight. They’ll all play much better as the season progresses. They have a lot to learn.”
Rodney Miller’s nine rebounds was a team-high for Miami.
Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora combined for 55 of the Cardinal points, with Nwora’s 23 leading all scorers. The preseason ACC Player of the Year also added 12 rebounds, a game-high he shared with teammate Steven Enoch.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about right from the start of practice is we needed to improve defensively,” Larrañaga said. “From a defensive standpoint, we’ve got to work so hard to improve our knowledge and understanding as to how to defend certain things...when you make mistakes defensively, the best thing you can do is learn from them so they don’t happen again.”
A pair of Vasiljevic three-pointers and Beverly baskets gave the Canes an early seven-point lead in the first half, before a trio of McMahon three-pointers spearheaded his own 9-0 run for the Cardinals, which would permanently change the contest’s momentum.
Miami did manage to cut the final margin down to just 13 points with behind a late effort to salvage something positive out of the night.
“I’m proud of our guys. We didn't give up,” said guard DJ Vasiljevic. “We could've lost by 30-plus but we only lost by 13. We didn't play the score, that was the emphasis at halftime...just play the Miami way.”
UM will see Louisville again on January 7 at the KFC Yum! Center.
Miami is next in against a pair of in-state opponents, first Friday at 7 pm when Florida Atlantic visits the Watsco Center. UM then heads to Orlando on November 12 to play UCF.