Even with the motivational energy of an emotional speech from former Hurricane Ed Reed before the team headed to Atlanta, Ga., Miami couldn’t overcome awful shooting and lost to Georgia Tech, 78-68.
Heading into the game, the Canes (17-11, 6-9) had the opportunity to make up ground in the ACC, but the Yellow Jackets released a year of frustration on Miami as they picked up their second conference win of the season on senior night.
The Hurricanes trailed for all 40 minutes against the Yellow Jackets (11-17, 2-13). Miami shot only 32 percent, while the conference’s worst team went 52 percent from the floor.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” head coach Frank Haith said. “We couldn’t make any shots. We couldn’t throw it in. We didn’t play well.”
With the loss, UM fell to 10th place in the ACC and will face ninth place N.C. State (16-12, 6-9) on Saturday at noon.
“People can’t keep talking about the tournament,” Haith said. “We have to talk about Saturday’s game.”
Senior guard Lewis Clinch proved to be hard to handle for one of the ACC’s top defenses as he finished with 30 points and made 9 of 10 3-pointers. Twenty of his points came in the first half.
“He was outstanding for them,” Haith said. “We didn’t find anyone that could stop him. He got them going early. He got loose.”
Senior forward Brian Asbury carried the Hurricanes with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Even though Miami outrebounded Georgia Tech by 22 and grabbed 26 offensive rebounds, the players couldn’t put the ball in the basket. The Hurricanes had 15 turnovers.
“We missed a lot of chippies around the basket. We had some bad turnovers,” Haith said. “We can’t win basketball games when you turn it over like that.”
Senior guard and captain Jack McClinton was held to 13 points and was one of seven from behind the arc. Haith said that he believes something might be wrong with McClinton’s knee after he injured it during the Florida State game on Feb. 18.
“Something still might be wrong with Jack, I don’t know,” Haith said. “He wasn’t in flow in the beginning. He was not into it. We need him. Everyone feeds off him.”
Miami had everything working for them before the game – a five-point favorite, the Yellow Jackets had lost seven straight games. The Hurricanes had even won four in a row in the series.
But Georgia Tech went ahead by 10 in a matter of minutes and had a commanding lead going into halftime, 41-25, as Miami opened up slow. The Canes were shooting a dreadful eight of 35 from the floor and one for 12 from 3-point range.
With the loss, the Hurricanes are all but eliminated from earning a spot in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. In order to make the big dance, the Canes would more than likely have to win two games in the ACC tournament or advance to its final. An official lock into the tourney would necessitate that Miami win the conference championship.
“We can’t worry about anything else,” Haith said. “We are hoping everyone can bounce back.”