Hurricanes set to host Notre Dame, aim for third straight win

Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong drives to the basket during the first half of Miami’s game versus Florida State at the Watsco Center on Jan. 22, 2022.
Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong drives to the basket during the first half of Miami’s game versus Florida State at the Watsco Center on Jan. 22, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Following a successful two-game road trip, Miami men’s basketball returns home to the Watsco Center to host Notre Dame on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Miami (16-5, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) enters the contest tied for first place in the ACC with the Duke Blue Devils, whom it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over. Notre Dame (14-7, 7-3 ACC) is tied for third place in the conference after suffering a 57-43 loss to Duke and falling out of second place.

“Notre Dame is an absolutely terrific team, and they’ve got some terrific wins, most impressively beating Kentucky which just dismantled Kansas [Saturday],” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Offensively, they’re a juggernaut. They have basically a seven-man squad that every one of them can shoot and score. They’ve got a lot of different ways to do it, they’ve taken advantage of any mismatch that they get. They all shoot the three. They’re just a very skillful group.”

Prior to facing Duke, Notre Dame had won 10 of its previous 11 games and looked like a top ACC team during its hot stretch. The Irish’s Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski each rank as top-10 shooters in 3-point field goal percentage nationally, and average 14.6 and nine points per game, respectively.

Miami will also have to balance its defensive towards guard Blake Wesley, Notre Dame’s freshman standout guard, who Larrañaga referred to as a “premier guard” who can score, defend and handle the basketball. The South Bend, Indiana, native’s 14 ½-point average ranks third in the ACC and fifth highest across major conference true freshman.

The Canes are coming off two huge road victories where they defeated Virginia Tech 78-75 and Georgia Tech 73-62, allowing them to hold onto first place in the conference. These two victories show the resilience of the Hurricanes, being able to bounce back after a heartbreaking home loss to Florida State.

“We’re 3-1 on the road, so that’s a pretty darn good road record in the ACC, especially at this time because I think there’s a lot of parity in the league,” Larrañaga said.

After Miami jumped out to a big lead against Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets made a late push to almost catch up to the Canes. They did this by beating UM at its own game, forcing turnovers in the first game of the season its opponent forced more turnovers.

The Hurricanes look to limit their turnovers against Notre Dame and avenge their 71-61 loss to the Fighting Irish almost one year ago. Another conference win would ensure Miami keeps possession of first place in the ACC, while improving to 17-5 overall and 9-2 in the conference.

Following the matchup on Wednesday, Miami will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, to battle the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday at 5 p.m.