A 15-point road loss at Wake Forest cost the University of Miami men’s basketball team three spots in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Hurricanes dropped from No. 2 to No. 5 in the latest poll after Saturday’s 80-65 loss to the Demon Deacons, their first loss since Christmas.
The loss snapped a 14-game UM win streak and caused coach Jim Larranaga to cancel player interviews for the next few days in an effort to give them more time to focus on practice, film study and individual work with the coaching staff.
Indiana remained atop the poll with a 24-3 record and 64 first-place votes. Gonzaga (27-2) is No. 2, Duke (24-3) is No. 3 and Michigan (23-4) is ranked No. 4. Miami is 22-4 and remains in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 13-1 league record.
The Hurricanes play at home Wednesday night against Virginia Tech and then head to Duke for a much-anticipated nationally televised matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We gave the players Sunday off, and [Monday] we will talk to them about why we lost and what we need to do moving forward,’’ Larranaga said. “We have four regular-season games left, then the ACC tournament and then postseason. There’s a lot of basketball left to play.’’
He wants to ensure that his players don’t start taking shortcuts or feeling overconfident just because they are atop the ACC, standings, ranked in the top five and getting a lot of national publicity.
“We have to get back to what got us here, which is spending a lot of time on preparation,’’ Larranaga said. “When you start to take preparation for granted, and think, `Oh, I can prepare a little less and play just as well,’ that’s when you get in trouble. We didn’t look sharp right away against Wake Forest. Our guys need to refocus.’’
He said with midterms approaching next week, and two important games this week, he will not make players available for interviews before the Virginia Tech game.
“Last week they were running from class to interviews to meetings to practice and being pulled in so many ways,’’ he said. “We need the extra time for the staff to work with the players. Teams are guarding us differently, and our guys need to adjust. We need to go over individual video so the players can see what they’re doing right and what they could do better. After that loss, I fully expect them to be focused at practice this week.’’
The UM-Duke game will be televised on ESPN. The last time they played, in Coral Gables Jan. 23, the Canes toppled then-No. 1 Duke 90-63.
It was the third-worst loss ever for a No. 1 ranked team, worst since 1968, UM’s first win ever over a top-ranked team, and the 27-point losing margin was Duke’s biggest in five years. Blue Devils stars Quinn Cook, Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Tyler Thornton went 6-for-44, and the team shot a season-low 30 percent. They shot 17.4 percent from three-point range.
Surely, the Blue Devils will want revenge, and they’ll have the Cameron Crazies there to help them. But first, UM has to focus on Virginia Tech. Only a few hundred tickets remained for Wednesday’s game as of early Monday afternoon.