In a game where first place in the ACC was at stake, the No. 11 men’s basketball team suffered a devastating 96-71 loss to the No.5 North Carolina Tar Heels, tying the worst defeat under Head Coach Larrañaga.
Miami (21-5, 10-4) also lost by 25 points to the Virginia Cavaliers in 2014, but many could argue this game was even more painful to watch. The deficit was as high as 38 points.
Both teams gave an incredible effort from the opening tip, but Miami just ran out of gas. The team was dominated by UNC (22-5, 11-4) offense, specifically the big men who were scoring with ease. The three-ball was falling, and the Tar Heels’ defense forced the Canes to just 42 percent shooting for the game, compared to their own 53 percent.
The Canes were ultimately outscored 54-38 in a disastrous second half. The spread would have been larger, but the team lessened the difference with garbage time baskets.
The first half was not an efficient one for the Canes, with the team only shooting 35 percent from the field and 2-11 from three-point range. UNC also had 14 bench points to Miami’s three in the first 20 minutes.
The game was tied at 15 at the 12:03 mark in the first half after a jumper by sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton. After that point, the Tar Heels finished the period outscoring the Canes 27-18 and went into the locker room up 42-33.
Miami did not start the second half any better, allowing UNC to go on a 13-1 run in the first three minutes. Unlike the first period, when the Tar Heels relied largely upon their big men to score the ball, the three-point shot really got the team going in the second.
Six UNC players scored in double figures with senior forward Brice Johnson leading the way with 16 points and 15 rebounds. The Tar Heels outrebounded the Canes 46-29 and had 22 more points in the paint. For Miami, senior guard Angel Rodriguez and senior forward Ivan Cruz Uceda led the team in scoring with 12 a piece.
With the game far out of reach, Newton exited the contest with 6:20 remaining in the second half after what appeared to be a left knee injury. He could put no weight on the leg. His status for future games is not yet known.
Miami will look to regroup for its important matchup against No. 7 Virginia on Monday at 7 p.m. at the BankUnited Center.