The University of Miami men’s basketball team is headed back from Brooklyn earlier than Canes fans would have liked after a 25-point loss to top-seeded North Carolina that was every bit as lopsided as the 78-53 score indicates.
Here are 3 Points for the Hurricanes (21-11) to ponder on the flight home...
1. Miami is pretty much a lock to get an NCAA Tournament invitation with anywhere from 8-10 ACC teams expected to make the field, but if the Canes don’t play with more energy and urgency in their next game, they could be one-and-done. UM committed 15 turnovers against the Tar Heels, scored only 22 second-half points, and combined for just seven assists (North Carolina had 21). The Canes struggled mightily from behind the arc. Sharpshooter D.J. Vasiljevic went 1-for-7 and Davon Reed was 1-of -5. Ja’Quan Newton had an off-day with three points, two turnovers, and 1-of-5 free throw shooting. Coach Jim Larrañaga, who was wired by ESPN, isn’t one to rip into his players too often, but he sounded downright angry when he challenged his players’ effort during a second-half timeout. “As I recall, when we last played these guys they weren’t doing this to us. You have to decide, `Do you want to compete with these guys or not?..this is the (raised his voice even louder) ACC TOURNAMENT!!!”
2. Bruce Brown is clutch. Although he had an off-game in the ACC Tournament opener against Syracuse, the freshman guard came out on fire against the Heels. He scored 30 against UNC the last time they played -- resulting in a 15-point Miami win -- and Brown led the Canes again this time with 21 points and seven rebounds. He did turn the ball over three times, which hurt. Overall, UM had 15 turnovers.
3. The loss will likely cost the Hurricanes a seeding spot, or two. Before Thursday, they were projected as high as a No. 7 seed, but they could wind up anywhere from 8-10 now, and that makes their path more challenging. The team will learn its fate at a Selection Sunday watch party at the campus Rathskellar. Will they wind up in Sacramento? Buffalo? Tulsa? Salt Lake City? Indy? Milwaukee? Stay tuned.