Bruce Brown stared at the referee, eyes in disbelief, and just shrugged – pretty much telling the all-too-familiar story for the University of Miami this season.
The freshman guard had just fouled Louisville’s Deng Adel on a made three-pointer in the midst of a 13-0 second-half run for the Cardinals.
The Hurricanes were moving the ball, slicing through the opposing defense and making open shots. But in a moment, that all changed. After leading by as many as 14, and seven at the half, Miami got outscored 45-33 in the second period to fall to No. 4 Louisville 71-66 on Saturday afternoon in the KFC Yum! Center.
UM (16-8, 6-6 ACC) suffered a scoring drought of over five minutes in the second half in which Louisville (20-5, 8-4 ACC) cut the deficit to one. Junior guard Ja’Quan Newton answered with a mid-range jumper and then stole the ball to assist on a Davon Reed corner three on the very next play.
Miami held its advantage with a six-point lead with just under nine minutes left. That’s when the Canes went stagnant on both sides of the ball, leading to the deadly run by the Cardinals that would put them ahead by eight.
Even after tying the game back up at 61 apiece with 1:56 to go, the Hurricanes had already lost the mental battle. Newton mistakenly called a timeout that the team did not have, which caused a technical foul and the frustration of Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga. Newton then dribbled the ball off his foot on the next possession for what would be the game-clinching turnover.
Louisville Coach Rick Pitino said that Miami’s transition game and three-point shooting worried him prior to the matchup. The Hurricanes showed another facet of their offensive game, outscoring the Cardinals 34-18 in the paint. However, Louisville countered with 11 three-pointers, which ended up making the difference.
Three Cardinals returned to the lineup, all of which made huge impacts. Forward Deng Adel tied a game-high with 18 points, including four three-pointers, and backup center Mangok Mathiang pulled down eight rebounds. Both returned from one-game suspensions.
Louisville senior guard Quentin Snider rejoined the starting lineup after mixing five weeks due to a hip-flexor injury. He hit back-to-back threes late in the second period to bring the Miami lead down to one, and then made another one with 41 seconds left to put the game out of reach. He finished with 13 points – one of four scorers in double-figures for the Cardinals.
Miami shot 52 percent from the field in the first half but just 36 percent in the second. Newton led the Canes with 15 points, and Brown scored 12 to go with seven rebounds. Reed, who was recently named “Mr. Dependable” in the locker-room, struggled to find the range, hitting just three of 12 shot-attempts for seven points.
UM goes to 2-22 all time on the road against AP top-five teams.
The Hurricanes return home to play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in the Watsco Center.