The Hurricanes’ men’s basketball team (8-8) lost to the Syracuse Orangemen (14-2), 54-49, on Sunday at the Convocation Center. The loss ended the Hurricanes seven game home win streak and the dismal 1-4 conference record dropped Miami to last place in the Big East divisional rankings.
The Orangemen came into the game ranked second in the conference in points per game with four of their starting five averaging double-digits in points. The Orangemen offense is lead by last year’s McDonald’s All-American, Carmelo Anthony, who averages 21.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Sophomores Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara, are the other offensive weapons, averaging 16.7 and 15.8 points per game, respectively.
However, the Hurricanes’ defense was able to keep the potent Orangemen offense grounded much of the first half, giving them different defensive looks that kept them disorganized and unable to effectively execute plays.
“I thought that defensively, we were doing the things we wanted to do. We did not let Carmelo go crazy on us,” said head coach Perry Clark.
Anthony had only seven points heading into the locker room, while McNamara was held to three points on one-of-six shooting. The Hurricanes were able to hold the Orangemen to their lowest point total for the season.
After being down by seven early in the first half, the Hurricanes went on a 12-point rally that allowed them to head into the locker room with a 30-25 lead. Senior, Rafael Berumen, was instrumental in the rally, coming off the bench to score all five of his points in the first half and grabbing offensive rebounds that allowed for second chance opportunities. The freshmen tandem of Armondo Surratt and Robert Hite were equally impressive on offense. Despite his 5-11 stature, Surratt was able to find open lanes and drive to the basket.
“Robert was playing well until he got into foul trouble. I thought that Armondo did a good job of pushing the ball when we had our spurt, getting us some nice looks and easy baskets,” said Clark.
Despite outplaying and outscoring the Orangemen in the first half, the Hurricanes seemed to fade away in the second, failing to convert on open shots on offense and playing porous defensively.
Warrick was to be the pivotal factor in the turnaround for the Orangemen. The sophomore forward scored 12 of his game-high’s 18 points in the second half and made his presence felt on the defensive end also, registering three blocks.
“Whenever he plays well, Syracuse plays well and I thought that in the second half, he was more aggressive in his play than we were at stopping him,” said Clark.
The Orangemen were able to find open looks underneath the basket and allowed themselves second chance opportunities by out rebounding the Hurricanes offensively. The Syracuse defense also stepped up, quickly converging on Hurricane players and contesting shots.
The Hurricanes scored only 19 points in the second half and none in the final eight minutes of the game. Darius Rice and James Jones were held to a combined total of 24 points for the game. After coming off of last Monday’s 43-point heroic effort, Rice seemed mortal, scoring 13 points on five-of-16 shooting. Jones finished the game with 11 points on 4-13 shooting.
“Obviously, the key to the game was the last eight minutes, not being able to come up with points. You can’t go eight minutes in this league and not score and expect to win,” said Clark.
Miami will be back in action this Wednesday when they play host to Providence at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
You can reach Sandeep Konka at email@example.com.